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Lithuania’s political and economic diary. Ruling Order and Justice Party busted by Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAgents from Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service (STT) busted last Tuesday, October 21, headquarters of the country’s ruling Order and Justice party (OJP) and apprehended five persons, including former Interior Ministry minister adviser and the ministry’s incumbent Deputy Minister, as well as a TV notable that was in charge in the party’s public relations.

The first vice-minister, Algimantas Juocevičius, was sacked after being previously put on the STT’s blacklist, and the former advisor, Ervinas Raistenskis, is still working as Deputy Director of the Property Management and Maintenance Department at the Ministry.

In search of evidence, STT agents also ransacked homes of executives of three companies related with the party.

The OJP party’s leader Rolandas Paksas, whom the news caught in Strasbourg, where a EP parliamentary session is held, told Lithuanian media he had no information on what was happening at the party’s headquarters in Vilnius.

Reportedly, the Special Service is interested in the party’s finances.

Elena Martinonienė, spokeswoman for Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office, implied that an investigation into the Order and Justice party has been opened amidst suspicions of serious corruption crimes.

«To my knowledge, it is a long-lasting preliminary investigation into corruption, specifically, into suspected large-scale trade in influence by an organized group,» she said.

Deputy prosecutor general Darius Raulušaitis hinted that he probe carried out by the Lithuanian Special Investigation Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office has to do with public procurement at the Interior Ministry.

It was reported the shadowy transaction can amount to more than 250 minimum living standards, adding up to LTL 32,500 (EUR 9,420).

STT did not reveal whether Dailis Barakauskas, the Interior Minister, is somehow involved in a possible scheme.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian PM Algirdas Butkevičius has denied speculations that if the minister resigns, his party, the Order and Justice, will leave the ruling coalition though the rumors abound.

The Government head insisted that the minister must hold his office throughout the investigation, but if malfeasants of the OJP officials are substantiated, the minister will have to resign.

The Prime Minister intends to discuss the situation with Rolandas Paksas, the leader of the embattled party which is weighing its legal options amid the scandal.

«We have seven days from the moment of the searches. We will definitely exercise the right and will file an appeal. We think that the STT actions and not only that – the court negligence or an intentional move to sanction searches at the Order and Justice party’s office but fail to specify the addresses. This means that searches can be performed not only in Vilnius but also in Šiauliai and Pagėgiai,» the party’s vice-chairman MP Kęstas Komskis, the former mayor of the Lithuanian and Russian border town of Pagėgiai, said on Thursday, October 23.

In a public communiqué, the party said the law-enforcement actions were redundant and disproportionate.

«The Order and Justice party expresses strong protest over the actions that were performed against it by officers of the Special Investigation Service on October 21 and will seek a legal assessment of the action. Operations of the Order and Justice party were possibly unlawfully restricted by the investigation of physical entities.

The officers’ actions in the framework of searches of the party’s central headquarters in Vilnius, which involved removal of computer hardware, databases and documentation of political character, as well as the search of the office of European Parliament member Rolandas Paksas who is currently away for plenary meetings of the European Parliament are seen as disproportional and violating an MP’s right to legal immunity and causing major damages to the party’s operations,» the Order and Justice party said.

U.S.’s Intermedix starts operations in Kaunas

U.S. Intermedix, one of the leaders providing services to the U.S. healthcare system. has opened a service centre in Kaunas, the second-largest Lithuanian city.

Participating in the opening ceremony, Lithuanian PM Algirdas Butkevičius congratulated the U.S. company for choosing Lithuania for its expansion in Europe.

The company is expected to create as many as 200 jobs for highly qualified specialists and bring its vast experience in the international health care market in Kaunas.

The Prime Minister emphasised that Lithuania is a strong competitor in the investment market due to its geographic location, qualified workforce, attention to the co-operation between science and business, as well as the development of innovation.

«Lithuania surpasses other countries of the region not only in the number of foreign capital projects but also in the number of jobs created. In the first half of 2014 the number of implemented investment projects increased by a fourth in Lithuania, while Central and Eastern Europe saw a decrease,» noted the head of Lithuanian Government.

The Americans are planning in the country further expansion and active co-operation with local educational institutions.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister warns on Russia’s plans in Georgian breakaway regions

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said during a visit in Georgia that Russia’s proposal for Abkhazia to sign a special agreement is an attempt to de facto annex the region.

«The agreement would de a facto legitimization of the annexation in a very similar way that we observed in Crimea. It is a highly dangerous tendency, which must be condemned unanimously,»the minister told BNS, a Lithuanian news network, in a telephone interview from Tbilisi after meetings with Georgian leaders.

Linkevičius in Georgia also met with opposition members, which maintain they are persecuted by the government. The Lithuanian diplomacy chief said he urged all politicians to go beyond internal conflicts in the face of external threats.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’s breakaway regions declared separation from Georgia in the 1990s and were recognized as independent states by Russia after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

Russia has permanently stationed thousands of troops in the region’s military bases.

Russian court reduces bail for detained Lithuanian ship

Russia’s Murmansk court  has reduced on Thursday, October 23, the bail for the release of the arrested Lithuanian fishing vessel Jūros Vilkas (Sea Wolf) three times, from 113 million rubbles to 36.6 million rubbles (EUR 2.1million to 0.7million).

The vessel was detained by the Russian coast guard in international waters on September 18 and towed to the port of Murmansk.

Lithuania claims that Russia thus breached the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Moreover, Russia did not inform Lithuanian institutions about the arrest of the vessel and its crew for four days.

Lithuanian army begins training instructors for Ukrainian troops

Lithuanian army school of Division General Stasys Rastikis has started a five-week international instructor training for Ukrainian troops, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry announced.

According to the head of the school, Lieutenant Colonel Stasys Paldūnas, the training program is aimed for training of specialists of NATO partner-countries.

The training will provide as many as 20 Ukrainian soldiers and junior officers with basic military training, as well as teach them to organize munitions and firing exercises, preparatory battle exercises, battle exercises and physical training exercises.

The program is designed to improve the knowledge and skills of participants and hold theoretical and practical exercises.


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