NSGK chairman does not conceal his intentions: we are accused of destroying the political system, but why keep it as it is now?

Vytautas Bakas
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

Seimas Committee of National Security and Defence (NSGK), which has been performing a parliamentary investigation on the links of politicians and businesses, chairman, “Farmer” Vytautas Bakas spoke of unreliable allies.

Speaking with Delfi on Wednesday, the NSGK chairman expressed concerns over the “reshuffling” of some of the Seimas committee compositions.

“Redistribution of committees is ongoing right now. It is clear that with the Social Democrats fracturing, the composition of the committees will have to change. I am trying to participate in this process and ensure that the people who, not just because of their reputation, but even actions, cause concern would not enter the committee until the investigation concludes,” he explained.

Delfi reminds that in October when the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP) Seimas group broke up, a part of the MPs who withdrew or were removed from the party former the Social Democrat Labour group, which continues to cooperate with the ruling Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS), while LSDP representatives have moved to the opposition. Due to this the composition of a number of Seimas committees, including the NSGK has been undergoing adjustment.

At the behest of the majority, the NSGK has been performing a parliamentary investigation since October 19 on potentially illegal links between politicians and business. Regarding the investigation, LVŽS chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis said in a Delfi conference last week that law enforcement institutions are cooperating with this Seimas closely and openly as never before and this trust could be based on the current Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis being the former minister of the interior.

In reaction to this Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat (TS-LKD) leader Gabrielius Landsbergis publically called on law enforcement institution leaders to dispel doubts rising for the public and politicians and provide detailed answers on potential links to the majority’s representatives.

On Thursday PM Skvernelis stated on Žinių Radijas that he only receives information from law enforcement agencies which he is entitled to and assured that the independence of law enforcement is ensured.

Unwanted politicians in the committee

Early this week a recording was released on the news media where representatives of various business groups apparently are discussing remuneration for an official potentially appointed to a high post at their initiative. Has such information reached your committee?” Delfi inquired NSGK chairman V. Bakas.

A fairly large amount of information reached our committee during parliamentary control. I stress – not just me, but the whole committee. One of the reasons why we are performing this investigation is specifically suspicions that there were established schemes, where certain, I would hesitate to call them business groups, if they act this way, but interfered with appointments to strategic company management, established their own people. These exist. I will mention neither company names, nor individuals. But we do see such a trend of trading posts.

Perhaps we are mistaken. In such a case we will apologise. I am not specifying anyone. But if we are not mistaken, we will make certain that there are no more backseat drivers in the government because it is a danger to the country’s development and future.

Is publication of such information not useful to your committee and you, as the head of the investigation, in strengthening your positions?

I did not release anything. My work style is that all information which is received from the special services is laid on the table for the committee members.

I hope that the tradition will not be spoiled by currently discussed appointments where people who are difficult to trust are being considered for our committee.

Who do you have in mind?

Let us wait. But I do have certain signals and it would be very unpleasant. If people whose reputation causes doubt were to join the committee. Because as of today all members of the committee are of immaculate reputation. They are trusted. I would very much like for our work to not be spoiled.

You mean that some unacceptable politicians may be proposed for your committee?

Redistribution of committees is ongoing right now. It is clear that with the Social Democrats fracturing, the composition of the committees will have to change. I am trying to participate in this process and ensure that the people who, not just because of their reputation, but even actions, cause concern would not enter the committee until the investigation concludes.

You mean people from the Social Democrat group which elected to cooperate with you?

I am not only talking about the partners. I am speaking about all parties, but I hope that party leaders will understand the sensitivity and will certainly not demolish our investigation and the trust we’ve earned.

I hope that the committee never leaks information. If it does happen, it will truly be a scandal.

M. Bastys and A. Skardžius – “wrong coin”

LVŽS leader R. Karbauskis spoke in a Delfi conference that currently law enforcement agencies are cooperating with the Seimas openly and closely as never before, also that information is coming to light which must not be left unsaid. Does the NSGK receive secret information from law enforcement, the publication of which requires discussions?

Let me stress – our party chairman has never asked and we have never coordinated with him what to do with secret information, nor have we discussed it. The information which is secret is intended only for the committee.

Speaking of law enforcement, yes, I am unafraid to say, I see that in some areas of importance to the state, law enforcement encountered barriers. It could simply not enter that area. The military, Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, other strategic companies. Why?

When starting work in the committee, my request to all the special services was to not be concerned with what politicians say. It is clear that the leaders we have now, for example in the Special Investigation Service, have already started on political corruption cases.

The LVŽS declares to all officers that they need not be worried – they simply have to do their work and protect the state from corruption, from completely useless investments and from the unwanted influence of unfriendly states. Yes, we are glad that law enforcement is performing its job. And we hope this will continue.

It is long known that there are politicians, political parties’ interests. Will it not happen that attempts to manipulate investigation material for one’s own benefits will happen behind your back?

The situation today is different. Such things are not possible. More accurately they are possible. But for it to happen behind my back is impossible. I can see it – those manipulations are happening. I see and identify them just fine.

But we must agree on principles. For example Mindaugas Bastys and Artūras Skardžius are not the coin to which we will change our political perspective. If the future of the coalition depended on these people, it means we need not such a coalition. It is one of the principles we have agreed on.

Another aspect. This is actually a test for the political parties. Everyone understands everything, which is being investigated. Just wait a little – with luck the public will also find out more. But this is a test for the political parties. They have to choose whether they are ready to cleanse themselves.

This cleansing could be painful. Some call it a political crisis, that we will destroy the political system. So what, must we protect this sort of system?

Will the NSGK parliamentary investigation which can be performed over facts which are investigated by law enforcement not spoil their work, giving the individuals mentioned in the investigation an opportunity to talk about a politicised process?

I would rather not comment on this question. I have done nothing to interfere with any pre-trial investigation. Quite the contrary, I asked for an experienced person to be appointed from the Seimas Law Department to advise us if such a risk arises.

Second, prior bringing this decision to Seimas (Over forming the investigation commission – Delfi), I spoke with the Prosecutor General’s Office. It is our interest that the people who performed a crime would answer for it and politicians would not be involved with the pre-trial investigation process and it will be so.

Yes, I do believe that there are attempts to create the image on the media that someone is interfering. But let those who comment thus answer me, what exactly we are interfering with.

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