bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 23.02.2017 | Name days: Haralds, Almants

Lithuanian Liberals‘ leader nabbed with 106,000 euro bribe

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 of 1)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

For many years, Eligijus Masiulis, the chairman of Lithuania’s Liberal Movement, would stood out in the scandals-prone Lithuanian politics as a spotless figure with the record of an avid fighter against the vices of national politics – corruption, shady lobbyism and the remnants of the Soviet mentality. But in a single day the long-cherished reputation has been shattered with a snap of finger.

Charges of corruption and influence peddling

The raiders from the country’s Special Investigation Service (STT) busted the Liberals leader’s posh cottage on Mindaugas Street in central Vilnius and seized 106,000 euros – all beforehand marked by the special economic police unit.

Behind the bribe allegedly stands vice-president of the major Lithuanian business corporation MG Baltic, Raimondas Kurlianskis, who was apprehended following the raid. He faces charges of corruption and influence peddling. Sources in Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office maintain MG Baltic had asked the Liberals’ chairman to pave way for motions in favour of the company’s business interests.

As the pre-trial investigation is ongoing, both Masiulis and the corporation’s executives keep their mouths shut, excusing themselves that it is the prosecutor who told them not to talk anything about the case.

How could it happen?

With the Liberals leader in hot water, political life observers, Liberals’ grassroots as well as ordinary citizens continued guessing how the politician, who always portrayed himself as an avid fighter against corruption, could end up in such shame.

Few commentators believe, however, that the money was supposed to fill Masiulis’ wallet. The most pondered it had to be funnelled into the party’s coffers and used to pay for services not on the official books.

Throughout the liberals’ ordeal, the internet was teeming with taunting zingers, like this one: «C’mon, Masiulis is just a victim. Do you really believe he could entrust his deputy Arvydas Guogas with the cooked books? Certainly not.»

Some of the liberals even suspect that the eccentric deputy might have colluded in ousting Masiulis. No evidence has been provided to support the claim, however.

Deputy’s cranky proposals

During the Liberals’ upheaval, Arvydas Guogas, the party’s first deputy chairman, a MEP and owner of an internationally operating betting company, TonyBet, stepped forward attempting to reign in the imminent damage to the party. But the propositions he’s made in that regard over the last couple of days left many bewildered. The multimillionaire of the Australian descent proposed to use lie detector not only to screen the fellow senior party members, but also the honchos of the other parties. Guoga also declared he wanted to replace the party’s secretary general with a senior-advisor, also Liberal, who is now on President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s team.

And furthermore: with the investigation just off the ground, the eccentric Lithuanian Australian hurried to repudiate the embattled party leader, repeating that the evidence the law enforcers have «are sufficient» to put Masiulis behind the bars. With all shaking their heads in disbelief, Guoga also pledged to build a church for his own money and to set up a fund, to which he promised 20 million euros, out of his pocket, too.

Liberals stripped Guoga of party membership

As the other Liberals were harkening to the party’s first deputy chairman in disbelief and anger, Guogas’ public bravado was abruptly stopped with the members of the Board of the Liberal Movement voting nearly unanimously to strip Guoga of the Liberal Party membership.

«Over the last three of four days Guoga was basking in the TV limelight, but he misused the appearances, failing to assess the risks that the TV cameras can be. Instead of trying to defuse the situation (that the Liberals found themselves in), he has been pouring gas into the fire,» Eugenijus Gentvilas, the leader of the Liberals’ electoral list told Lithuanian press.

Liberals can pay big price

Refusing to acknowledge defeat, defiant Guoga has vowed his support for the Conservatives (Lithuania’s Homeland Union and Lithuanian Christian Democrats) and hinted his political career is far away from being over.

Although many political analysts believe the opposite now, but some spout the internationally famous poker player will likely find his way to a presidential election race in 2019.

But the damage the party has suffered from his statements might be far-reaching.

«The Liberals have blown up a bomb in front themselves ahead of the parliamentary election campaign,» says Mažvydas Jastramskis, a political scientist of the Institute of International Relations and Political Sciences at Vilnius University.

«Unlike in other corruption scandals, this time the party leader himself is mired. Coupled with the fact that he was the poster face of the Liberals’ election campaign and that the large amount of money was seized at his home, the scandal can be too much for the Liberals to bear,» the analyst says.

Vilnius mayor took over party reins

Masiulis retains his parliamentary immunity until the Central Electoral Commission passes a decision to revoke his parliamentary immunity. Masiulis shows no sign to give a fight for it on the Lithuanian Parliament floor.

With the party’s two chief men off the political stage for now, Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius, has emerged as a possible successor of the troubled party. The other candidate mentioned by media is Eugenijus Gentvilas, a sexagenarian MP and former MEP.

In the time being, the liberals agreed that the former will temporarily head the party until the party’s convention picks up a new leader in June and the latter will lead the Liberal Movement’s electoral list.

Although the party tries to heal the wounds, some analysts ponder the party convention might turn into a battle for the power among the party’s different groups and that of Guoga, too.

Ref: 111.111.103.3530


Leave a reply

EC: Latvia’s tax structure does not contribute to growth

«Latvia’s economic growth will be relatively rapid, but income inequality is a major problem that needs to be prevented,» concluded the European Commission in the latest report on economic development of member states.

Study in schools proves connection between health problems and classroom air

Microbiologists in Finland have extensively analysed the health of school teachers and stated that it has been scientifically proved for the first time that there is a direct connection between the quality of air in rooms and human health.

Only five asylum seekers remain in Latvia

Only five asylum seekers resettled in Latvia as part of the EU refugee resettlement programme currently remain in the country – one family of three and two individuals, one of which intends to leave the country in the near future, said manager of Safe Home asylum Sandra Zalcmane told 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Ascendum: the country needs a strong NGO sector

Non-governmental organizations do not wish to play the role of a guard dog in the work with the government and state administration, because Latvia’s civil society is mature enough to the an equal cooperation partner for the government, states Ascendum association.

State has to register adoptions by same-sex couples, Estonian court rules

According to a ruling by the Tallinn administrative court, the Estonian Interior Ministry should have made entered in the population register adoptions made by a same-sex couple that has registered its partnership.

Dobeles dzirnavnieks: organic animal feed – Latvia’s potential export product

Latvian grains processing company Dobeles dzirnavnieks has commenced production of organic animal feed, adding that it is a potential export product.

CAMART2 – most massive project in Latvia’s scientific history

The biggest project in Latvia’s scientific history – CAMART2 – has been opened in a positive atmosphere. «Commencement of the largest international scientific project in our country’s history once again proves the high level of competence of our scientists. With CAMART2, Latvia becomes a Baltic Silicon Valley,» says Latvian Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis.

EUR 1.8 million to be invested in Estonian new e-Police

With the development of Estonia’s new e-Police system continuing, it is planned to invest 1.8 million euros in its third stage, as police expect a faster and more practical revamp of the current software and procedure.

Latvia to procure nearly fifty used howitzers; first ones to be supplied in autumn

Latvian National Armed Forces will sign an agreement with Austrian Defence and Sports Ministry for the procurement of M109 series 155mm self-propelled artillery system. This agreement includes not only the procurement of howitzers, but also fire support centre and driver training platform procurement, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

Credit institutions in Latvia to secure payment accounts for all residents

From now on all residents will be provided with the option to use payment account service in credit institutions, as reported by Saeima press-service.

90 years – such average life expectancy forecast for women in South Korea

Women in South Korea would be the first among other countries to reach an average life expectancy of over 90 years, scientists conclude.

Industry experts wish to reduce VAT on food in Latvia

During the first meeting, industry experts began considering opportunities for reducing value added tax rate on food or certain food product groups.

Swedish police investigate riot in Stockholm

Police in Sweden has started an investigation into a riot that broke out this week a mainly immigrant part of Stockholm.

Expert: Latvia still has the highest unemployment level among Baltics

«Tendencies on the labour market will become more positive this year. Queues of unemployed people are expected to decline more quickly. Unemployment will be reduced by negative demographic trends too, but there will not be any sharp changes.

Augulis: Pasažieru vilciens has to resolve the matter with procurement of 32 trains

The greatest challenge for Pasažieru vilciens this year will be the continuation of the procurement procedure of new trains. This project is expected to conclude with the successful procurement of 32 new trains by the end of the year, says Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis.

EU: Privacy settings in Windows 10 are concerning

Representatives of EU’s member state data protection watchdogs have stated that concern remains about privacy settings on Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, although the software firm has announced some changes to its installation.

Non-declaration of cash to be applied with fine equal to 5% of the amount

In the event of non-declaration of cash money when crossing the border of the Republic of Latvia, a fine equal to 5% of the amount will be applied. This was decided by the Cabinet of Ministers during the viewing of Finance Ministry’s amendments to the Law on Declaration of Cash at the State Border.

KNAB commences criminal process against state environmental inspector

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has commenced a criminal process against the senior environmental inspector of the Nature Protection Office’s North-Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve for requesting a bribe, KNAB reports.

Oil prices around the world have no unified tendency

Oil prices around the world had no unified tendency in the morning on Tuesday, 21 February. Optimism regarding the ability of oil exporter organizations and oil producer countries to realize the agreement on reduction of oil volumes does remain on the market.

Estonian anti-humantrafficking helpline contacted by 420 people last year

As human trafficking-related crime is on the rise in Estonia, a special helpline, received calls from 420 people last year, with people reporting mostly, when they are already in trouble not preventively.

Viewing of Lembergs and For Latvian and Ventspils criminal case continues

On Tuesday, 21 February, Riga Regional Court will continue reviewing the criminal case involving Aivars Lembergs and For Latvia and Ventspils. In it, Lembergs is accused of bribery, document forgery and other crimes.

State Border Guard apprehend 32 perpetrators

On Monday, 20 February, officers of the Latvian State Border Guard apprehended 32 perpetrators attempting to illegally cross the state border.

Trump calls Estonia «valued ally and friend» in letter to Kaljulaid

In letter to Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on the occasion of the upcoming 99th anniversary of the independence of Estonia, U.S. President Donald Trump has referred to the Baltic country as «a valued ally and friend».

Caksa: low wages cause deficit of doctors in many places

Because of low wages, tension and concern are felt in many fields of medicine, said Healthcare Minister Anda Caksa in an interview to Rīta panorama programme of LTV.

Authorities to perform in-depth assessment to prevent existing problems in legislation

Court Administration, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development will perform an in-depth assessment to identify existing legislative problems that create an administrative burden for businesses.

Newest comments