Tomas Dapkus. The roots of the Justice Ministry scandal

Tomas Dapkus
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis‘ first days back from holidays were much hotter than the Spanish sun.

Vice Minister of Justice Raimondas Bakšys resigned on Monday. This was a publically expressed ultimatum-like desire from S. Skvernelis’ advisor Skirmantas Malinauskas and his companion from the Ministry of Justice Rasa Kazėnienė. A replacement for Minister of Justice Milda Vainiutė is being searched for because on Tuesday it was her turn to resign.

It was President Dalia Grybauskaitė who demanded it from the prime minister. Meanwhile the duet of S. Malinauskas and R. Kazėnienė also expect the head of ministry chancellor Arūnas Kazklauskas. Early days yet, but our prime minister already has so many tasks.

Let us begin with the most important.

“A specific case in the Ministry of Justice and Prison Department revealed that the minister is, after all, not in the right place, is certainly not coping with her posting and is demonstrating political impairment,” the president told journalists on Monday.

D. Grybauskaitė added, “The struggle with corruption cannot be selective in Lithuania, we cannot condemn and chase some and forgive others.”

Really? Perhaps with the lynching ending it will be possible to find out, what case that was exactly? That the ministry management disagreed with using the unfinished audits of R. Kazėnienė and S. Malinauskas done in the “Garliava style” for self-advertising?

That it was proposed to call upon the prosecutors when the whole audit is performed? Prosecutors were contacted though. What else? That the “fighter” felt like she was followed? That the Ministry of Justice simply wished to adhere to legal procedure, rather than undermining the principles of rule of law in favour of cheap populism? Perhaps PM S. Skvernelis will answer these questions? Is his advisor’s political hysteria and so far baseless accusations toward a vice minister going to be swept under the rug because everyone has already resigned without uncovering the truth? But who needs that when the crowd is pressuring?

But back to the president. It is great to hear the president’s strict and categorical position, however it is unfortunate we only hear it in the ninth year of her presidency.

What is even more unfortunate is that we did not hear such a position concerning previous ministers of justice, alongside whom this corrupt system (the Centre of Registers, Prisons Department and many other areas) was formed and thrived. It is especially unfortunate that we never heard condemnation for former Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis, who was this system’s patron and beneficiary. Furthermore, he was viewed as the best minister of his term’s government. The disgraced Prison Department director, J. Bernatonis’ coursemate, Živilė Mikėnaitė was also cared for. As if all this did not happen, J. Bernatonis continues to confidently go in and out of the Presidential Palace, just as the Seimas Foreign Affairs Committee chairman now.

The minister of justice and her vice minister were not even granted the opportunity to explain themselves. And now with them under universal condemnation, I would like to remind that it was specifically under the efforts of M. Vainiutė and R. Bakšys (arrogantly smeared as being J. Bernatonis’ man) that essential breakthroughs were achieved – the immovable head of the Centre of Registers Kęstutis Sabaliauskas resigned, J. Bernatonis’ ward, Prisons Department head Živilė Mikėnaitė was fired, despite the then vice minister, now prime minister’s advisor, Donatas Matuiza’s shady influence on the selection process, the minister refused to reappoint Artūras Norkevičius to the post of Prison Department head he had held for numerous years. The latter, together his deputy D. Matuiza, who would later also be Ž. Mikėnaitė’s deputy, did not see all the possible corruption and crime in the penitentiaries.

By the way, why is S. Malinauskas not resigning despite D. Matuiza now advising the prime minister in legal issues? Despite being delegated by the Social Democrats, M. Vainiutė had the courage to also reform the scandalous prison company Our Crafts despite knowing that Danas Paluckas, the brother of Social Democrat leader Gintautas Paluckas, held a cosy position there, resulting in D. Paluckas losing the spot.

Yes, the minister cleaned the system too slowly, with much difficulty, perhaps chaotically, but a cleansing was underway. Up to her and R. Bakšys, no one even tried doing it.

Yes, the minister is not skilled at public speech and lacks a political background, her bewilderment in front of the cameras left many laughing, however the humble law professor, who everyone is cleaning their shoes on now, is worthy of thanks.

Unlike Minister of the Environment Kęstutis Navickas or Minister of Agriculture Bronius Markauskas, who cynically care for businesses linked to themselves, we cannot accuse M. Vainiutė of this. However, they continue to work untouched. Because they are backed by Ramūnas Karbauskis.

What is more – let us recall, who were proposed instead of the current minister – the first candidate was a member of Seimas linked with the mob boss “Švinius”, the second – J. Bernatonis’ vice minister who publically lied about drunk driving on his first day on the job.

By the way, no questions arose for the heads of state regarding them and it was only thanks to public pressure that one of them did not become minister and one had to resign on day one.

But would there be such scandals as today, if one of them was appointed? I doubt it. Because in our country, it is only those who try to at least nudge the corrupt system, who receive blows. The patrons of this system receive only silent, but ensured support.

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