Butkevičius, who came back from holidays this week, met the president to discuss several members of the cabinet who have been suspected of corruption. Healthcare Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė has handed in her resignation over suspicions she might have demanded bribes from hospitals, while Minister of Environment Kęstutis Trečiokas has been questioned as a special witness in an investigation related to illegal construction.
“Such shameful cases make the government vulnerable,” President Grybauskaitė said after meeting PM Butkevičius. “We see that the assessment of the situation is inadequate, the existence of problems is being denied in the fashion of the old mentality, not European standards. This only makes the government crisis deeper. In this situation, we must draw a distinction between legal responsibility and political responsibility. Politicians and government members must assume political responsibility. The responsibility for the ministers’ cabinet is, first of all, the prime minister’s.”
Grybauskaitė has added that whether the current government can last until the end of its term will depend on how responsibly it deals with the crisis. Butkevičius needs to distance himself and his government from ministers whose actions raise suspicion, but it does not necessarily mean stepping down, according to Grybauskaitė.
“Political responsibility is not necessarily resignation,” she said.
Prime Minister Butkevičius has accepted the resignation of Healthcare Minister Šalaševičiūtė, but has said there is no reason for Environment Minister Trečiokas to step down.
“I am surprised by the tone [of the statements] that there is corruption in the government. I want to hear tangible facts. If there are facts, I am ready to sack these officials on that same day,” Butkevičius said on Tuesday.