The so-called army utensils scandal is turning into an open war between the president and the cabinet, Lithuanian analysts say.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė has called Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas a liar, stating that the cabinet is bringing shame to the state.
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has expressed dissatisfaction with the President’s “politicking”, while the defence minister has no intention of stepping down.
“To claim that, back in 2014, the National Defence system was doing something [about the scandalous order] would be far too audacious because no-one contacted the prosecutor’s office regarding the inflated prices and everything proceeded as before for the next two years. That is the same sort of purchases from Nota Bene, nearing €2 million,” stated President Grybauskaitė, expressing dissatisfaction with the actions of the Ministry of National Defence and the cabinet‘s response to the scandal.
The Social Democratic Party continues to support the embattled minister of national defence, questioning the president‘s reasoning. Prime Minister Butkevičius has expressed trust in Minister Olekas and has urged the president to refrain from politicking. “I would like that the president would adhere to the Constitution and would be impartial towards all parties,” countered the prime minister in a different interview.
Political scientist Kęstutis Girnius also sees little reason for the embattled minister to resign, pointing out that similar scandals occur in the Pentagon every year, but do not get blown out of proportion.
“The President has a right to do politicking and to state which parties she approves and disapproves of, but here she is engaging in politics of ultimatums which does not suit a president and do no honour to Lithuania.”
The army utensils scandal was sparked by revelations that the Lithuanian army purchased kitchen utensils from the company Nota Bene at a price eight times their market value.