Saving private Skardžius – is the commission ruling aimed at safeguarding the coalition?

Artūras Skardžius
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

It is very important to the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union to maintain the coalition and were the “Farmers” to not back Artūras Skardžius, their coalition partners could withdraw completely, opposition MPs Eugenijus Gentvilas and Remigijus Žemaitaitis say.

Based on pre-trial investigation and STT information

On Wednesday, a Seimas commission passed the ruling to not initiate impeachment proceedings against A. Skardžius. Farmer and Greens Union group member and chair of the Skardžius impeachment commission Agnė Širinskienė states that the commission voted in near unison – 8 members voted against and one abstained. According to her, A. Skardžius’ actions are no basis to believe that the Constitution or the oath of a member of Seimas was breached.

A. Širinskienė reminds that the Constitutional Court ruled that impeachment can only be initiated over actions made after the latest member of Seimas oath. This means that the commission could only consider the actions of A. Skardžius made after the 2016 oath.

“Impeachment can be organised against a member of Seimas for a harsh breach of the Constitution or oath. This means that it is not any unsuitable or breaching the law act by a member of Seimas that can become the object of impeachment. Also, a pre-trial investigation concluded and found no actions, which would clash with penal law,” A. Širinskienė says.

The commission chair adds that information gathered by the Special Investigation Service (STT) contained no breaches. The MP states she sees no basis, why the Seimas should disagree with the commission’s decision on Thursday because it is also based on other institutions’ data.

Member of the same Seimas group as A. Skardžius – Lithuanian Social Democrat LabourGediminas Kirkilas agrees with such a valuation by the commission and is convinced that there was no basis for an impeachment. According to the MP, this is the ruling he was expecting.

“We hope that the Seimas will agree with this ruling by the commission. If there is no basis for an impeachment, why should anyone vote in favour? The opposition is subjective and hostile in regard to this question. After all, A. Skardžius often criticises the opposition Conservatives‘ decisions, this is obvious revenge,” G. Kirkilas complained.

Seeking to safeguard the coalition?

Liberal Movement group member E. Gentvilas participated in the commission’s activities and made the sole abstaining vote. According to the liberal, this way he expressed his opinion that he does not agree to the commission’s conclusions, however was hesitant to vote in favour because he cannot firmly claim that A. Skardžius breached the Constitution or his oath.

“In my opinion, this was the ruling we could expect. A. Skardžius is an important representative of the ruling majority. I believe that when voting this commission ruling will be supported – the Seimas majority will mobilise,” E. Gentvilas believes.

The liberal describes the commission’s work as “saving private Skardžius,” however, it is likely that in this case A. Skardžius is no private.

“If one or two members of Seimas withdrew or fell out of the Seimas majority, the votes of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union could no longer buoy them. If the “Farmers” do not back Mr. Skardžius, the Social Democrat Labour group could withdraw from the coalition. The “Farmers” will not permit this, thus I do not believe that any objective analysis will be done,” E. Gentvilas noted.

Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat group member Rasa Juknevičienė says that “Farmer” leader Ramūnas Karbauskis cares about those, who seek to implement Kremlin projects in Lithuania. She states that the majority also organised a plan to save Mindaugas Bastys, when the Seimas voted against impeaching the parliamentarian.

“A. Širinskienė also strove to do all that is possible for A. Skardžius’ impeachment results to be what they are. They were also interested in ejecting Andrius Kubilius from the commission. To my knowledge, he was presenting key questions in this investigation and was one of the best prepared commission members. Only technicalities were left – to write such conclusions that suit them,” R. Juknevičienė stated.

What decision to expect in the Seimas hall

Order and Justice party chairman R. Žemaitaitis believes that the commission may have not had enough facts to prove A. Skardžius’ guilt. According to the MP, this story was surrounded by various evaluations and opinions, thus he has been trying to avoid preconceptions.

“As a jurist I am in favour of such processes being investigated by law enforcement institutions and not members of Seimas or commissions formed from them, which would become embroiled in their righteousness. This is unacceptable,” R. Žemaitaitis spoke.

According to the MP, the majority can negotiate how to ensure the ruling is made to not recognise A. Skardžius breaching the Constitution. Apparently, it can be expected that a similar ratio of votes will appear in the Seimas hall.

“The coalition is of great importance to the “Farmers” and A. Skardžius’ interpellation could encourage the Social Democrat Labour group to leave. This could be one of the reasons why an impeachment will not be organised,” R. Žemaitaitis mused.

The Seimas will vote on the ad hoc commission’s conclusions. If it does not back the commission’s ruling, another investigation will have to be organised. If the Seimas backs the ruling, A. Skardžius will not face impeachment. This question will be deliberated on Thursday.

The investigation on impeaching the MP was initiated when several MPs expressed concerns that A. Skardžius’ family loaned land for wind power plants and presented legislative proposals on renewable energy.

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