Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN
Lithuania does not have a Prosecutor General (PG) since June and it will remain this way indefinitely. Well, perhaps until next year’s autumn, when the freshly elected and sworn in MPs will get back to the issue after the President introduces a new candidacy.
After the Seimas has thumbed down two possible successors- Nerijus Meilutis in June and Edita Dambrauskienė last week- President Dalia Grybauskaitė has hurried to say she will not ask the Seimas to do that anymore. In Lithuania, Prosecutor General is appointed and dismissed by Lithuanian President with approval from the Seimas.
Proposed successors are «puppets»?
Last Tuesday, in the voting in Seimas, the candidacy of Edita Dambrauskienė, chairman of Kaišiadorys District Court, garnered 50 supporting votes, 49 were against and 19 abstained.
The post of Prosecutor General is vacant from mid-June, when Darius Valys, former Prosecutor General, ended his five-year tenure. He had been seen by many as« puppet» prosecutor general pandering to the interests of President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Not surprisingly, the epithet would pop up each time the President would introduce the Seimas a new candidate.
With Valys gone, his deputy Darius Raulušaitis is at the helm of the institution. Although many would like to see namely him replacing his former embattled boss, Grybauskaitė has not hinted he could ever be her choice.
«It just affirms the preposition that the head-of-state does not go by the qualifications and experience, therefore she does not seek someone among prosecutors, but rather wants a candidacy «comfortable» to her. It is obviously not right attitude and sends a negative message to all out there. Not surprisingly, her candidates get rejected,» Lauras Bielinis, a political analyst, told BNN.
With the failure of the successors, the President’s Ofice says President Dalia Grybauskaitė will not be in a rush to submit a new candidacy, but «might wait» until the very end of next year when the newly elected members of Parliament start a new four-year parliamentary tenure.
«Politicians always give promises, but they do not meet them. There is no need for hurry- the situation, constitutionally, can be frozen. If there is any decision (in that regard) in the future, it can be until the election (slated for late October next year-L.J), but it can also be after the Seimas election,» Dalia Grybauskaitė was quoted by LRT as saying.
Are special enforcement agencies behind?
According to the head-of-state, the current situation – the partly paralysis of the Prosecutor General’s Office- is convenient to some.
«This is seen outside- both in Seimas and media,» Grybauskaitė underlined, adding she had in mind «some interested (in the situation) groups».
«In some oligarchic media outlets we all were very clearly witnessing attacks against a concrete candidate. I believe that not only the Seimas has voted against the proposed successor, but also some of the groups, too,» the head-of-state said.
But Pranas Žeimys, a MP, believes the President «tends to exaggerate» things.
«Are we saying that everything media tells is the reflection of some oligarchs? I believe that there are oligarchic groups a lot elsewhere. The President likes to blame supposed oligarchs for everything,» the MP told BNN.
Before, the President lashed out at the Parliament accusing it of «irresponsibility» ahead of the upcoming election.
Following the failure to get Dambrauskienė, the candidate, into the seat, Julius Sabatauskas, a Social Democratic MP, noted that, not for the first time, high-ranking officials are not appointed just because somebody leak special law enforcement agencies’ damaging information or spread rumours about the candidates.
«And no one is even intending to check it. We see it every time, when a candidate is being considered- rumours start circling, either through media outlets or from mouth to mouth. It is characteristic to the signature of special agencies,» the parliamentarian is convinced.
One of the rumours on the parliamentary floor was that Dambrauskienė and the previous candidate, Meilutis, may have colluded against a Kaunas Region Court judge who allegedly came up with evidence that a parole case in Kaišiadorys District Court, in which Dambrauskienė presides, has serious flaws and the judges’ omissions.
Nobody verifies ugly rumours
Some of the people in the capacity to make decisions, the PM says, do give in the rumour, or even started convincing others that it was right.
«Instead of discussing rumours publicly, only few dare to speak out – others simply close their eyes,» says Sabatauskas.
As an example of that he referred to the recent appointment of Equal Opportunities Ombudsman.
«For a long time, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson’s Office was vacant and, after several disapproved candidacies, comes a person, who neither acts in the field, nor is knowledgeable of it. We have a similar situation with the Prosecutor General’s Office,» the Lithuanian lawmaker believes.
He admitted in the Parliament’s hearing that he had heard some prosecutors expressing exasperation that the President’s Office proposes lawyers, not prosecutors to the post.
«Not surprisingly therefore that angry murmurs and whispers can be heard then in the prosecutorial circles that prosecutors are devalued and mistrusted,» the politician reasoned.
Sabatauskas says that behind the stage in the decision-making over the appointments are individuals with «good connections» in law enforcement structures and are able to use the obtained information from them for malign intentions.
«I’d say they are people who, until know, used to open the door of Prosecutor General’s Office with their legs,» the legislator hinted.
Who is to blame most?
Following the failed voting, the Lithuanian parliamentarians started pinpointing to one another in search for the culprit.
The Parliament’s Spokeswoman, Loreta Graužinienė, brought attention to the fact that, although the largest factions of Conservatives, Liberals and Social Democrats had promised to vote for the candidate, barely they did so when it mattered.
«Some of the factions’ heads do not keep the situation in the factions under control,» the Speaker told.
Meanwhile, part of the legislators shot back, saying that the voting has shown mistrust in the President, not the candidate herself.
As always suspicious Andrius Kubilius, former chairman of the Conservative Party and, now, the Opposition leader, speculated that part of the parliamentarians took revenge for «something» against the President.
«The President proposed a candidate, who did not belong to the system of prosecution – I’d say a very competent candidate, with no one daring to doubt her qualifications. But the system started demonstrating resistance from the outset. Because of the ruling Coalition’s will to avenge the President, suffers both the Prosecutor General’s Office and Lithuania,» Kubilius told Delfi.
But the leader of oppositional Liberal Movement, Eligijus Masiulis, suspected that the largest Seimas factions played double games during the secret voting.
«We cannot be blamed as our faction consists of 11 members only. Meanwhile, the Conservatives and Social Democrats have around 70 mandates in total, so it is evident that they were implicated in some backstage games,» Masiulis pointed out.
The biggest responsibility, he says, falls onto the ruling Social Democrats, who gave the President very strong pledges that she will have their support for her candidate.
«The situation is becoming really tragically comic. I can hardly imagine any other candidacy being proposed after the two failures. Now even we saw Barrack Obamaintroduced to the Parliament for the capacity, he would not pass the Seimas,» the Liberals’ chief bantered.
Who plays the games?
In the blame game, Stasys Šedbaras, one of the stalwarts of the Conservative Party, suspected the Labourists were behind the opposition to Dambrauskienė.
«For me is obvious that a party having law issues hampered the vote,» he said.
Still, the Social Democrats drew his biggest irk: «I can just suspect that somebody from them resisted the President’s candidate. To fail the voting more votes were needed besides those from Labourists, Order and Justice Party as well as Mixed Group,» Šedbaras said.
Meanwhile, Artūras Paulauskas, the deputy chairman of Labour Party and former deputy Prosecutor General, dismissed the accusation and praised the candidate’s beauty.
«Her biggest advantage is her age and beauty. As a specialist, she is only forming herself,» Paulauskas told lrrt.lt after meeting Dambrauskienė.
Speaking to BNN, Pranas Zeimys, a parliamentarian, called Dambrauskienė a «suitable candidate» and regretted that the parties «play games.»
«She has done different work in different structure of law enforcement, so it’s sad that the appointment has become a new round of duel between the Parliament and President,» Žeimys said.
He believes that the head-of-state will overcome her grievance and will submit a new candidacy for the post of Prosecutor General until the end of the year.