Political corruption investigation conclusions in danger: “Farmers” have their own plans

National Security and Defence Comittee meeting
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

With the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) investigation into suspect political and business links nearing its conclusion, the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) leader Ramūnas Karbauskis has spoken up on how the planned conclusions will only be intermediary and the work should be continued.

The “Farmer” leader stated so in a Wednesday Delfi conference.

“I believe that the NSGK investigation, the first stage of which is concluding, should continue its work. I believe that the committee members will find motives to continue working because new information is appearing and it is of a very surprising nature,” R. Karbauskis said.

Delfi reminds that from last October, at the behest of the Seimas, the NSGK is performing an investigation over individuals, business subjects and other interest group’s potentially illegal influence on state institutions and political processes. The investigation conclusions are being prepared and are expected to be approved on Wednesday.

This week concerns arose that the NSGK may be being pressured to adjust the conclusions. Conservative NSGK member Arvydas Anušauskas spoke of this on Wednesday, stating that R. Karbauskis is pressuring the committee, casting “baseless accusations” upon the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD).

Meanwhile, a “Farmer” representative in the committee, Dainius Gaižauskas stated that apparently if all the material NSGK has gathered were published, everyone will understand, “Why A. Anušauskas is saying that supposedly there’s efforts to besmirch the TS-LKD.”

Bakas: I currently deny the possibility of a continuation

When talking about the extent that the NSGK investigation could be expanded to, R. Karbauskis used a piece in the Kauno Diena newspaper as an example, with the piece claiming that conservative Andrius Kubilius‘ son is an observer board member in the company “Modus Grupė, which owns companies operating in Belarussian energy projects.”

This apparently suggests a possible clash of interests for the conservative, who is working in Social Labour member Artūras Skardžius‘ impeachment commission. A. Kubilius firmly denies this.

“The investigation (on being continued) would allow seeing further material, which is not public and which, one could think, is plentiful,” R. Karbauskis assured in the Delfi conference.

Meanwhile NSGK chairman, “Farmer” V. Bakas told Delfi that he has not received any offers from either the LVŽS group or NSGK members to continue the investigation.

“I currently deny the possibility of such a decision. We have discussed it at the committee on Wednesday because there were proposals to hear further testimonies, request material and such. But we cannot investigate everything – we are not a law enforcement institution. Yes, the further you go, the deeper the matters develop, perhaps it would be interesting to deepen, I am talking about separate initiatives, but we have exchanged opinions and decided that we will conclude the investigation next Wednesday,” he said.

According to V. Bakas, decisions to extend the investigation and expand it with new material can only be made by the Seimas.

“The Seimas grants the commission a mandate to investigate, it formulates questions and the commission itself. The Seimas, through its ruling, has tasked us with performing an investigation and to present conclusions by the first of June. There are no other decisions as of today and no one can make any other decision today,” V. Bakas explained.

Opposition TS-LKD leader Gabrielius Landsbergis speaking on the idea to extend the NSGK investigation stated that he could agree to discuss this question in only one case – if the process also enveloped the actions of Agrokoncernas, which is owned by R. Karbauskis. Delfi reminds that the idea to perform an investigation on agricultural land, which includes Agrokoncernas’ activities was shot down last week due to the votes of the Seimas ruling coalition.

“On one hand, If the NSGK members decided that there is a specific extra task, which was either not foreseen or was thought to be possible to resolve otherwise, through other commissions, then it would be possible to discuss that this is an extension intended just for that. In all other cases it would just be delaying tactics or seeking to change the conclusions so that they would more represent what the chief stockholder of Agrokoncernas needs,” G. Landsbergis spoke.

Talks of influence on the investigators

Other committee members have also been talking about “odd matters”, which have been occurring around the NSGK, which is finalising its investigation. On Wednesday, conservative member Rasa Juknevičienė shared an entry on Facebook from which the impression can arise that certain changes began after the testimony of Tomas Dapkus to the NSGK last week, which lasted three hours.

The journalist features in the recently published State Security Department (VSD) report intended for the NSGK and heads of state, where he is identified as an intermediary between the MG Baltic group, which has come under corruption suspicions and politicians being influenced by the business.

The politician links the demand of three NSGK “Farmers” Audrius Šimas, Jonas Jarutis and D. Gaižauskas with T. Dapkus’ testimony on Wednesday – demanding to request not only A. Kubilius, but also G. Landsbergis and signatory Jonas Tamulis to testify before the committee. This individual was earlier called by the media as Russia’s energy giant Rosatom‘s representative, who helped ease Lithuanian complaints to the company, which through its subordinate company Nukem, delayed the closure processes of Ignalina nuclear power plant.

“J. Tamulis is mentioned in the investigation as a representative of Nukem. This is no secret. After coming to the committee T. Dapkus vengefully and fairly theatrically cast a message that supposedly J. Tamulis was responsible for the political right at Nukem and met with A. Kubillius. It was a straw to grasp for the “Farmers”, who couldn’t find anything particular about the Conservatives in the investigation,” R. Juknevičienė wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile T. Dapkus claimed on Facebook that information that he supposedly testified against former Prime Minister A. Kubilius on his links to J. Tamulis is inaccurate.

“I must clarify that I testified on all of Rosatom and its subordinate companies’ network of influence in Lithuania and the network’s contacts. This includes those in the social democrat parties, the Liberals, as well as the Conservatives, the ministries, as well as on the baseless benefit Rosatom received compensating supposed damages experienced by Nukem at Ignalina NPP. Unlike certain politicians, who cast disgusting insinuations, I spoke directly and without accusations. R. Juknevičienė knows this because she was at the hearing,” T. Dapkus stated.

NSGK chairman V. Bakas firmly denies that the committee may have been influenced over investigation objects or its conclusions.

“No one is influencing the committee, quite the contrary, on Wednesday we made decisions, which prevent this process from being politicised. We are not involving ourselves in the pre-trial investigation and the decisions made on Wednesday regarding certain individuals, who were proposed to be invited (G. Landsbergis and J. Tamulis), refusal of such a proposal, shows that the committee as a team is standing by the stance that the process must match the principles of the rule of law,” he stated.

President opposes, but declassifying to proceed

According to V. Bakas, both the opposition and majority MPs in the NSGK have agreed on a “red line”, a limit, which must not be overstepped at work.

“The first “red line” is that we are not overlapping with the work of law enforcement agencies and courts. We definitely agree on the main goals – to conclude the investigation, publish it and propose directions, which would allow us to strengthen the political system,” the NSGK head stated.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has pointed out to Delfi in an interview on Wednesday that the publication of the gathered material by the NSGK is “a political publication” and with legal proceedings beginning, it would be an incredible risk.

In June, the courts are to begin the proceedings of the political corruption case where accusations have been cast on the MG Baltic group, the Liberal Movement and its former members Eligijus Masiulis, Gintaras Steponavičius and Šarūnas Gustainis, as well as the Labour Party and its former member Vytautas Gapšys. Court proceedings also await the Order and Justice party on corruption charges. Testimonies have been taken from approximately 150 individuals, who include representatives of the TS-LKD.

What charges may be cast against the aforementioned parties and figures, as well as what political corruption questions the NSGK reviewed was partially revealed when several weeks ago a State Security Department intended for the NSGK and heads of state was leaked. It talks about the links between MG Baltic and the Liberal Movement, as well as other politicians.

Fairly undignified political backstage sights were also revealed when in May the newspaper Lietuvos Rytas published correspondence between President D. Grybauskaitė and the then Liberal Movement leader E. Masiulis.

The majority, primarily LVŽS representatives demand that the NSGK investigation’s material on political corruption would be declassified and made available to the public. Just at the start of this month, D. Grybauskaitė also spoke on believing the NSGK’s courage to reveal potential corruption links.

“I hope that the investigation conclusions will reveal more links and perhaps individuals if the committee will dare to say, how the influence was done, how MPs were influenced and who, at whose hands, did it,” the head of state said on the LRT talk show Laba Diena, Lietuva in early May.

In her Wednesday Delfi interview she spoke otherwise. Now she described the NSGK investigation as “selective” and explained that in it the situation is ignored, where “we see business participating in politics in Seimas directly, <…> a direct linkage between “Agribusiness” and politics.”

“Any political declassifying of material when court proceedings are ongoing in parallel are an incredibly risky act and an action which could be justified and perhaps would most benefit a new political power, which is striving to criticise its predecessors, but the risk remains that the whole political process will be exploited by the defence,” the president stated.

V. Bakas assured Delfi that the material, which was declassified at the committee’s request is to be published.

“Certain preliminary decisions on the still classified material have been made, I would rather not comment them now. The committee will meet next Wednesday and will make a final decision on them. But information will definitely not be revealed, which would harm ongoing investigations or information sources, special services’ methods or could harm the participants of the intelligence process,” he noted.

The NSGK chairman spoke about not wishing to comment on the president’s statements, however he noted that the public must know answers to the questions, which the Seimas formulated for the committee in its formation.

“From the start we understood that the conclusions and information obtained in the investigation are sensitive, but I already said – how long can we conceal that political reality, those centres of power, the circumstances of their formation from the public? It must know so that the way is barred for unaccountable interest groups forming. Such was our goal, we declared it from October and it remains unchanged,” V. Bakas explained.

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