V. Bakas: they shot at the country via news media, thus they may lose their license

Vytautas Bakas
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

The State Security Department (VSD) report, which reveals efforts to take over the state, which appeared early last week was as if a response to the release of correspondence between President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Eligijus Masiulis, who is awaiting trial. MG Baltic interests enveloped the Seimas, 10 ministries and 4 state institutions, lrt.lt writes.

The VSD report revealed very specific actions by MG Baltic representatives, which sought to influence politicians and political processes, influence law enforcement and other controlling institutions.

It is approximately a 13 year period, from 2005 to 2018 where the VSD claims that its information was constantly handed over to the Special Investigation Service (STT). The report for the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee, which is concluding its investigation on the influence of interest groups on politicians and political parties, has only been partially declassified because it contains a number of classified names. This was discussed on the LRT Television talk show Savaitė with the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) chairman Vytautas Bakas.

The politician denies that the committee intentionally leaked the report to the news media, stating that they would release investigation conclusions, rather than individual details and reports, upon finalising the investigation on the 1st of June. He emphasises that actions regarding the report may be taken already during the Seimas spring session or autumn session.

“I believe that the first and most important question is the control of political parties’ and campaign financing. It must be completely proactive, priorities must be reviewed, there is need for a dynamic and there must be orientation toward results. We cannot see after ten years that one party received suspicious financing, we have fairly painful consequences. Secondly, I believe it is urgently necessary to make decisions on whether the media can be employed as it was because it is licensed activity. It must serve the public interest, it is a business, but it is also a licensed activity. For example if you obtain a gun license and discharge it in town, it will be revoked. These were shots at the country, thus those, who are shooting via the news media, they should simply be withdrawn.

V. Bakas stresses that he cannot unilaterally make such a ruling, but believes that the examples revealed during the investigation, where the news media is employed as a tool, propaganda department or for lobbying should not happen. He emphasises the need to strengthen law enforcement institutions and that this is an opportunity to ensure that Lithuanian intelligence services would reach the technological standards of the USA or UK. At the same time, he believes this is an opportunity to review lobbying legislation.

In terms of support for the committees conclusions and proposals in Seimas, V. Bakas believes that there will be need for wide ranging consensus, similarly to national defence matters. “If the majority and opposition wish for the state to make a breakthrough, they must unambiguously come to agreement. And I believe that there is will for it, at least from what I see now. No doubt there will be need to swallow some bitter pills, obtain attention, which will not appeal to politicians after this investigation. No doubt, we can throw dirt (as is now, there are efforts to divert the energy), begin persecuting the special services, inviting them to the Seimas – “why didn’t you warn?” What to warn about, who to warn? About buying elephants? It’s hilarious,” V. Bakas said.

The NSGK has specified that there are 5-6 groups involved in their investigation and the chairman admits that among them some remain active and aggressive even now and hold sway over news media outlets.

A scandal involving the VSD and NSGK occurred under similar circumstances in 2006 and 12 reports. V. Bakas believes that the previous case is one to learn from and that the current iteration of the committee has reviewed the prior investigation. “Back then it was a brave investigation, a strong investigation, we considered whether to classify it as well. But an even more important task, despite any issues the public should know is to protect sources, officers and methods. And I can say that it was decided to not publicize those reports because despite their importance, it would greatly harm the work of the special services,” he stated, adding that in certain names in the 12 reports and current investigation overlap.

When asked, how he imagines the fate of the individuals, who surfaced to the public through the reports and may be included in the investigation, V. Bakas said that he is interested in how such people view the fate of Lithuania and how they imagined all their countrymen’s fates over those ten years, those who left the state, their families. The politician concludes that he cares less about the fate of the perpetrators.

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