MG Baltic case. How at the group’s behest, a conservative strove to harm Landsbergis and why Steponavičius lowered himself

Darius Mockus, Tomas Dapkus, Raimondas Kurlianskis
Rimas Pocius

MG Baltic group VP Raimondas Kurlianskis boasted to a number of high state officials that he maintains close connections with not only the Liberals, but also the Conservatives. From secret data gathered by officers it is surfacing that he was boasting not without reason: one conservative backed by the group even intentionally partook in the party chairman elections and thus sought to harm Gabrielius Landsbergis, who was aiming for the post – the business did not support his candidacy.

This conservative member is long time Seimas member Mantas Adomėnas. His testimony to prosecutors revealed that the politician, enacting the businessmen’s request even agreed to run for the post of Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) in spring 2015.

“R. Kurlianskis told me that the MG Baltic group would benefit if the party position was taken by Irena Degutienė. I participated in the party chairman elections as well and they – the group – supported my bid because my participation could “take” votes from G. Landsbergis,” M. Adomėnas spoke.

Indeed, when after the spring 2015 municipal election Andrius Kubilius withdrew from the post of party chairman, M. Adomėnas’ participation in the race for chairmanship harmed G. Landsbergis – in the first round the latter lacked 21 votes to victory, thus a second round was held where he competed against I. Degutienė.

M. Adomėnas, who is a member of the Conservatives’ presidium, confessed to officers that he began interacting with R. Kurlianskis from around 2014 when he was acquainted with the MG Baltic VP through the group’s board member Romanas Raulynaitis, who went to the same school.

M. Adomėnas stated that he would meet R. Kurlianskis around once every three months; these meetings would be held in public spaces – cafés, wineries.

“Drinking wine together, we would discuss questions of interest to R. Kurlianskis, those linked to the 2016 Seimas elections, the political situation, also the situation within the TS-LKD. R. Kurlianskis also took interest in the municipal elections, with what parties the Conservative’s would enter coalitions – I was left the impression that he was interested in the TS-LKD partnering with the Liberal Movement,” the MG Baltic case witness said.

The conservative did not hide that the meetings with R. Kurlianskis were typically held in the evenings, however on November 2, 2015, he received a sudden phone call from the businessman with an offer to meet urgently.

“During this meeting with R. Kurlianskis, I spoke about the amendment to the consumer credit law presented by Liberal Movement Seimas group member Šarūnas Gustainis. R. Kurlianskis said that a project registered by Š. Gustainis will “come”, one that will favour both the lenders and the borrowers. He requested for support for this project in the Seimas plenary meeting,” M. Adomėnas said.

The politician assured that R. Kurlianskis did not request to influence other party members, but admitted that in the Seimas meeting three days later, he did vote in favour of Š. Gustainis’ project.

“I formed this opinion after R. Kurlianskis’ statement that the amendment will help maintain a balance of interests,” the conservative explained.

Another meeting between M. Adomėnas and R. Kurlianskis was held on March 2016 – the conservative admits that he requested financial support from the group’s VP.

“I mentioned to R. Kurlianskis that in the future I would like to request help for the 2016 October elections to Seimas. We did not discuss the size of the support and how it would be provided, only generally discussed the elections and the possibility of supporting me. R. Kurlianskis appeared “positive” in this regard, I saw no conflict of interest due to requesting support, I simply contacted individuals, who can do it, have the funds,” M. Adomėnas spoke.

The conservative assured that earlier neither R. Kurlianskis, nor MG Baltic provided support for him. The conservative also did not obtain support after this meeting – a month later under suspicion of bribing Eligijus Masiulis, R. Kurlianskis was arrested.

“I interacted with R. Kurlianskis because I found it interesting to interact with such an influential person – I viewed him as influential due to his position in the group, the public opinion forming capacities he held,” M. Adomėnas noted that he interacted with the group VP as if “with a potential supporter of my electoral campaign.

Artūras Zuokas: I know, but won’t say

That R. Kurlianskis is boasting that he maintains especially friendly connections with not only the Liberals, btu also the Conservatives, was revealed to officers by a number of highly ranked state officials – the secret case files reveal that some of them even requested R. Kurlianskis personally to introduce them to the increasingly influential in politics E. Masiulis.

Former Vilnius Mayor Artūras Zuokas also testified to officers that the MG Baltic VP R. Kurlianskis was influential.

“To me, as someone who has participated in politics for a long time, facts are known that R. Kurlianskis, who was in charge of the group’s media activities, would act as an unofficial lobbyist in relations between politicians, interest groups and the news media he controls,” A. Zuokas specified.

The current Vilnius city council member, who drew the eye of special services many years ago, was unwilling to reveal from where and what he knows of R. Kurlianskis.

That politicians were dependent on the group is also revealed by an October 5, 2015 conversation secretly recorded by officers in Kaunas between R. Kurlianskis and Lithuanian Health Sciences University (LSMU) rector Remigijus Žaliūnas. The MG Baltic group’s company Mitnija has won a vast number of competitions from the LMSU – millions of euro have been paid for construction works.

“What sort of company are you now, which party will you be backing? All of them?” R. Žaliūnas asked R. Kurlianskis in a restaurant.

“We have spoken with Darius (Mockus) that we must make sure, preferably by Christmas, a first round of meeting with four: the Social Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals and Labourites. And it is very likely that we will back all of them one way or another. There are doubts regarding the Conservatives because we were unable to do it with the old leadership. There is this sort, lets say, who will be our partners and now looking personally. So then, there are most questions regarding the Conservatives, but in principle – we have our eye on them. Basically – those four,” R. Kurlianskis answered.

Grey and dark zones

“I guess your priority will nevertheless be the Liberals?” R. Žaliūnas asks.

“It’s hard to say, but somehow this time we decided to look at it this way and much earlier regarding this question,” R. Kurlianskis explains with R. Žaliūnas mentioning that he is more interested in knowing how many “variables with the Conservatives there will be”, continuing, “The chairman (G. Landsbergis) is young and far off. I try to look at it as who could be it, those personalities, those individuals (…) So we will try, perhaps someone, thinking not two steps, not three steps ahead, not to talk of five. But here, somehow. Sort of experimental. If you have any thoughts, be certain – we will gladly enter it into our programme to try to enter our colleagues’ programme points. Here, by the way, I asked seriously in that regard. Have this in mind. Because for us like this, in essence, well what could we want? Perhaps working with excise goods wanting a consistent excise increase maximum. I mean, that they will rise there is no doubt, but consistent, gradual. But in essence, more so our interests are realised through our partners’ interests. One way or another. Same way as with your case.”

At the end of the conversation, R. Kurlianskis discreetly offered the LSMU director his aid: “If you see that some sort of assistance is needed, especially in that grey zone, where I am perhaps stronger then you or the dark zone, let me know.”

“I have no doubt,” R. Žaliūnas concurs that R. Kurlianskis is certainly more influential.

Later, when asked by prosecutors what the “grey” and “dark” zones are, the rector could not answer. He was also unable to answer how R. Kurlianskis could have aided LSMU.

“During the conversation R. Kurlianskis was a board member of Santakos Slėnis (Based on a contract signed by Mitnija with LSMU in 2009-2010 for 12.85 million euro, Mitnija built the Santos Slėnis pharmacy and health technology centre), he boasted of his capacities – that he has connections and contacts with Lithuanian politicians and influence on Lithuanian political parties,” R. Žaliūnas could not explain, why the businessman boasted of these links, however noted that he was interested in who would win the Seimas elections because the founder of the LSMU is the Seimas.

Dreamed of getting acquainted with E. Masiulis

The former head of the State Tax Inspectorate (VMI) Modestas Kaseliauskas also spoke about the group VP’s power and relations with politicians.

“Both from R. Kurlianskis and from common acquaintances I know that R. Kurlianskis and Liberal Movement chairman E. Masiulis’ relations were close and good, R. Kurlianskis could call upon E. Masiulis with requests regarding political decisions necessary for the group and E. Masiulis, if it benefitted him, would fulfil such requests,” M. Kaseliauskas said.

E. Masiulis was so influential that the son of social democrat Bronius Bradauskas, who replaced M. Kaseliauskas in the post of VMI chief, Dainoras Bradauskas wanted to personally become acquainted and made a call to this end. Prior to this meeting, he asked R. Kurlianskis to “Put a word in for me.”

“I want to simply, elementary establish relations, to just be acquainted because, you know, well, so that he would not be tense – well, mean, I am definitely only coming to get acquainted, to be acquaintances, to maintain contact, you know,” D. Bradauskas spoke.

He also emphasised that he has a number of acquaintances in the Liberal party, but does not know E. Masiulis:

“Say with the Conserves, there well, let’s say it’s neutral. Neutral, but you know, due to the surname you can do PR to one or other. So then with them there, perhaps this, perhaps that… Something would be decent, you know that they would just, well you know… But to me, you know, how to say, with the Social Democrats, sort of…”

Revealed VMI investigations

When asked by R. Kurlianskis, what relations he maintains with the other parties, such as the Labourites, the then VMI head said, “With the Labourites, with the Paksists, I now have them by the balls, you know there…”

“The Paksists I kinda view as shit anyway… I find it somewhat unpleasant to associate with them,” R. Kurlianskis retorted, noting that group head D. Mockus maintains contact with Order and Justice leader Rolandas Paksas, adding that he maintains good relations with Vytautas Gapšys, who was convicted in the Labour Party financial machinations case.

“I won’t hide it, I mean our main friend, contact and the one, who regulates everything, is Vytukas (diminutive of Vytautas) Gapšys. And he also regulates Baltraitienė (Virginija, 2015 minister of agriculture). He regulates anyone and… if need be, arranges with Viktor (Uspaskich, MEP). I mean, you never see Viktor, in that regard,” R. Kurlianskis is recorded as saying.

During this conversation, which was recorded by State Security Department (VSD) officers, D. Bradauskas also let slip that VMI is performing a review of V. Uspaskich’s financial activities: “What it will end with, I do not know, but I have told the guys: I say, no need for fanaticism, I mean, he is there, does not come through he political line, but goes through, purely through the lists of the wealthy. No need, you know, to look for enemies of the people there.”

During this conversation, the head of the VMI mentions another investigation, where not only E. Masiulis, but also his then deputy Antanas Guoga appeared.

“I have a few of these signals that in some episode Masiulis goes with Guoga, you know – D. Bradauskas’ conversation with R. Kurlianskis in some restaurant in the centre of the capital was recorded by officers. Somewhere wrong. Not at ours, but somewhere else. You know and then supposedly before New Year’s there can be some sort… (…) So Guoga asked me, do you have anything, you know. But there somehow Masiulis was going, some way. You know, so I have warned Antanas (Guoga). But that, you see, it might likely be that they probably said something about Masiulis, you understand.”

I. Degutienė: I do not personally know R. Kurlianskis

Officers, who performed the investigation of the largest corruption case in Lithuanian history, also questioned several members of the Conservative party. One of them was Laurynas Kaščiūnas, whose membership has been suspended for a year due to interactions with the group’s VP.

The former advisor to I. Degutienė admitted that he was acquainted with R. Kurlianskis by journalist Tomas Dapkus. During a meeting at the group’s offices, the businessman asked the politician to inquiry, what the position of I. Degutienė, then Seimas Budget and Finance Committee member, will be regarding Š. Gustainis’ amendments on consumer credit.

During this meeting, R. Kurlianskis also requested to arrange a meeting with I. Degutienė. When L. Kaščiūnas mentioned this to the MP, she advised to avoid contact with businessmen. Furthermore, according to the conservative, during the conversation, I. Degutienė specified that she supports the consumer credit amendments proposed by the Bank of Lithuania, not Š. Gustainis’ proposal.

Meanwhile, I. Degutienė, whose leadership of the Conservative party was sought by MG Baltic, told prosecutors that she is not personally acquainted with R. Kurlianskis, albeit knows of him.

“When L. Kaščiūnas requested I meet R. Kurlianskis, I told him that I do not meet business representatives and advise him the same,” I. Degutienė said, adding that he agreed with such a position.

G. Landsbergis: the group thought I wouldn’t win the elections

G. Landsbergis who took over Conservative leadership in 2015 also met with the group’s VP – he became acquainted with R. Kurlianskis through public relations specialist Mykolas Katkus.

“I first interacted with R. Kurlianskis after the party chairman elections, this meeting was held at the group’s offices. This conversation was fairly unpleasant, I was unpleasantly surprised after it. I asked R. Kurlianskis only one thing – that the party would be fairly represented on the group’s media. Then R. Kurlianskis specified that they, that is to say the group, did not support my candidacy to the post of party chairman and did not think I would win. Furthermore, he stated that political processes do not happen in Lithuania without the group’s say – R. Kurlianskis implied that “they” have levers and can influence decision making in Lithuania,” G. Landsbergis said at the prosecutors’ office.

This was not the only meeting between G. Landsbergis and R. Kurlianskis – a few months later the politician received a letter from the businessman, where he invited for a meeting. This time in a “two-two” format: R. Kurlianskis specified that he wishes to participate in the meeting with the group’s lawyer R. Raulynaitis, while offering G. Landsbergis to bring Jonas Survila, who is apparently his “right hand” in the party.

This meeting was held at one of the capital’s hotels, however this time “the lecturing tone from R. Kurlianskis was no longer present” – during the insignificant conversation the businessman “inquired about politics, also mentioned other parties.”

The third meeting between the Conservative leader and R. Kurlianskis was held in February 2016, now at the initiative of G. Landsbergis, though as he said at the prosecutors himself, prior to it he had already “heard opinions that it is best to stay away from MG Baltic.”

G. Landsbergis chose to talk with the VP of the influential business group because at the time, planning for the Seimas electoral campaign had already begun – the party chairman was meeting with representatives of banks, news media and business.

“During this meeting I presented the parties electoral programme to R. Kurlianskis and asked for his news media outlets to be objective and not create adverse conditions in the public sphere. When R. Kurlianskis asked whether the party is expecting something from the group, I answered that we hope for fairness because the LNK television group is powerful and can influence the formation of public opinion. And with colleagues we had discussed that the Liberals look good on the LNK channels,” the TS-LKD chairman said.

According to G. Landsbergis, during this meeting R. Kurlianskis mentioned “If there would be need for financing, there’s chances for support.”

“I understood that R. Kurlianskis spoke of indirect support for our political party. During the conversation, he mentioned that there are various means of support, also mentioned about support for youth organisations. But I strictly responded to him that there’s no such demand – I believe that R. Kurlianskis was testing my reaction, how I would respond to proposals of such support,” the Conservative leader said.

20 thousand voters more supporting the Liberals every year

R. Kurlianskis brought up youth organisations on purpose – secretly-recorded conversations reveal that the accused former Liberal Movement chairman E. Masiulis would even boast that they have raised a new generation, which is prepared to vote for specifically the Liberals in elections.

This new generation was individuals, who had just finished school. “The project of ours, which we have held for two years now, has great meaning to them… those civic mindedness lessons. Gintaras’ (Steponavičius) project,” E. Masiulis told the group’s president Darius Mockus, VP R. Kurlianskis and lawyer R. Raulynaitis during the famous December 16, 2015 dinner at the Meat Steak House restaurant.

“We have reached 20 thousand senior class students a year in direct contact,” G. Steponavičius echoed E. Masiulis.

“Who… And when we began to drive around, they already really have the right to vote,” E. Masiulis boasted of the rising voter count.

“That segment is good, but… naturally there’s a mixture of various and… when there isn’t, when for example as Raimis says, from those paths only one goes to ours,” G. Steponavičius added.

Later commenting this secretly recorded conversation, accused G. Steponavičius said that he spoke with the group’s leaders regarding the Freedom Studies Centre, which he had founded, project, which was held from 2014, “Civic mindedness lessons in Lithuanian schools.”

“During this project we visited more than 200 schools in Lithuania. Public survey data has revealed that from the age of 18, on obtaining the right to vote, youths support liberal ideas and are inclined to vote for the Liberal Movement. I believe that this project of ours contributed to the more active participation of youths in elections, thus it was specifically this project’s influence on such awareness among young voters that we spoke of with the group’s leaders,” G. Steponavičius said.

But for this project to continue, funding was needed, thus G. Steponavičius requested it without modesty from R. Kurlianskis and when the latter stated that the group does not hand out charity, the still member of Seimas even lowered himself: “Perhaps somehow…”

“We are where the sensation is,” R. Kurlianskis retorted.

About Dainius Sinkevicius 3 Articles
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