During its investigation of business influence on politicians, the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) among other things reviewed a State Security Department (VSD) paper, which presents a table with the most influential Lithuanian business and interest group ratings from 2006 to 2016.
Most of the 28 page long paper named MG Baltic: the threat of oligarchisation to national security remains classified, however the publically accessible parts allow to become acquainted with how, according to the VSD, MG Baltic became the broadest spanning and most ambitious toward political processes oligarchic structure.
2006 – Achema in 1st place
The VSD paper specifies that the criteria for identifying the most influential Lithuanian business/interest groups are based on Demid Chernenko‘s academic piece in the publication Economic Change and Restructuring, called Capital Structure and Oligarch Ownership.
These are the criteria: size of wealth owned in the state, business interest multi-sector span, influence in dominant news media or its control, close relations and their number with the political environment, political or state institution decision exploitation for business development.
VSD specifies that based on this, in 2006 the nitrogen fertilizer and industrial chemistry producer Achema was in first place in Lithuania.
In second – the Vilniaus Prekyba group, in third – Rubicon Group, fourth – Vikonda group, fifth – MG Baltic and sixth – the gas trading company Dujotekana.
2016 and the rise of MG Baltic
The NSGK paper outlines that the leaders of MG Baltic, whose operations began in 1992, prepared a long-term development strategy in 2002, whose systematic implementation (considering its scale) could be viewed as seeking to influence the composition of the state.
According to the VSD, based on the aforementioned criteria, in 2016 it was MG Baltic that was the most influential business/interest group in Lithuania.
Achema landed in second place, in third was Augustinas Rakauskas and Alvydas Žabolis‘ business group, in fourth – Icor (formerly Rubicon Group), in fifth – Vičiūnai Group, while Vilniaus Prekyba dropped from second to sixth place in the span of a decade.
Threats and potential consequences
Beyond these evaluations, the VSD paper also outlines the threats within MG Baltic activities. These are how decisions are made by unaccountable groups of individuals, political influence and expertise is made into a commodity, news media manipulates rather than ensures transparency.
It is stated that due to this, systemic corruption could appear, as well as a lack of social responsibility, weakened state institutions, favourable environment for hostile propaganda and reduced incentives for economic development.
“A potential consequence of such activities is a façade democracy, which would be ruled by money and informal means of influence.
According to the VSD, in order to combat the façade democracy (oligarchisation, plutocracy), which is developing in the country we must remove the causes of this threatening phenomenon, primarily – through improvements in legislation, regulating public sector areas such as: insufficient effective party financing regulation, insufficiently regulated and controlled lobbying, insufficient control of public and private interest, insufficient media transparency,” the paper states.
The VSD specified that the information was presented based on the intelligence law’s 6th article: “The main goal of intelligence institutions is to strengthen the Lithuanian Republic’s national security by gathering information about risk factors, dangers and threats, presenting it to institutions, which ensure national security and removing these risk factors, dangers and threats.”
Sectors under MG Baltic control
The VSD paper also specifies that the strategic goal of MG Baltic is the creation of a favourable political, institutional and legal system for the group, seeking: contracts in the public sector, project financing from EU structural funds, advertising contracts.
It is stated that to this end, media, relations and finances were employed and used for blackmail and smear campaigns, gathering information and manipulations via “support” (financial and information).
According to the VSD, the main acting individual was MG Baltic president Darius Mockus, while everything was implemented by MG Baltic executive, lawyer Romanas Raulynaitis, former MG Baltic VP Raimondas Kurlianskis, journalist Tomas Dapkus and LNK television head Zita Sarakienė.
NSGK was also presented with a table, which specifies how MG Baltic activities concentrated in these sectors and sought interest representation in state institutions and companies:
1. Construction (including projects in strategically important sectors): In the ministries of transport and communications, healthcare and education, also in Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, Lithuanian Road Administration, as well as Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.
2. Real estate management and development: Ministry of Environment and the Public Procurement Service (VPT).
3. Information technology and telecommunication business: ministries of justice, healthcare, transport and communications, as well as the VPT.
4. Broad consumption goods production and distribution, retail sales: Ministry of Economy and Competition Council.
5. News media: Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, Competition Council.
Calling political farce
In a Wednesday evening comment released by MG Baltic, the NSGK conclusions are described as political farce.
“From the start it was clear that this process, which is called an investigation, does not even reach the minimal standards of the rule of law. The whole investigation is simply a political farce and discredits the state, the so-called conclusions – a selective and politicised mash of written down rumours, episodes of which are open disinformation, which has nothing in common with reality.
Due to this process, the entire business environment will experience negative repercussions. The political, selective investigation illegally criminalised the largest Lithuanian business groups and discredited them both in Lithuania and abroad.
The economic welfare of the state depends on investment, which leads to the growth of the economy and people’s welfare, rather than the narrow interests of politicians’ games, which only distance them from real life,” the comment stated.