bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 02.04.2020 | Name days: Imgarde, Irmgarde
LithuaniaLithuania

The ghost of hostile foreign intelligence and spies shadow Lithuania’s Christmas

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

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

Vilnius ex-Vice Mayor Algirdas Paleckis

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Christmas is around the corner, however not the merriest annual holiday, but the topic of secret services and spies prevails the Lithuanian media ahead of the celebration.

Lithuania’s law enforcement on Wednesday, December 19, announced it busted a «whole network of persons», including Algirdas Paleckis, the former leader of Lithuania’s Socialist People’s Front, spying for Russia.

Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis did not reveal the exact number of detainees, just mentioned Paleckis among them.

According to Pašilis, the persons suspected of spying for a Russian intelligence organization, «are one way or the other related to political non-parliamentary parties».

«Such intelligence targeted the most sensitive places for the public, including the so-called January 13, 1991 case,» the chief prosecutor said.

In his words, criminal activity has been taking place for over a year, which shows «the activity lasted for a long time, it was purposeful and deliberate».

Later the day, another name of the busted persons appeared in media, that of Valery Ivanov, a Russian citizen and former leader of the pro-Soviet organization Yedinstvo.

He however was released on Thursday, a day after the was detained in Vilnius in connection with an investigation into spying for Moscow, prosecutors confirmed.

Ivanov was detained after a gun was found in his apartment during a search. Suspicions of unlawful possession of firearms were brought against him.

Prosecutor General’s office issued a statement, saying that «a set of non-custodial precautionary measures have been imposed» on the Russian citizen «to ensure his participation in the process».

However, it is apprehension of Paleckis, a prominent yet controversial Lithuanian activist, that came as a surprise to many, including Gediminas Grina, former director of Lithuania’s State Security Department, VSD.

«He (Paleckis) is too a public person to collude with a hostile foreign service and thence be part of interest of Lithuanian intelligence. As we say in the intelligence circles, special services are interested in those who stand invisible behind the wall, not in somebody like Paleckis who is very visible on the stage,» Grina told BNN.

Said that, he cautioned that Lithuanian intelligence may indeed have certain incriminating evidence against Paleckis.

«It can come in form of obtained correspondence, documents or possession an electronic gadget with delicate security- sensitive information,» Grina added.

He emphasised that whatever evidence against Paleckis is, it might not be enough to prove his guilt in court.

According to former VSD director, there always are people who are interested in what is going on in Lithuania.

«And there always are people who are ready to snoop and provide it for a gratuity,» Grina underscored to BNN.

Law enforcement officials said off the record that the suspects spied for non-public-type information but refrained to disclose whether it was classified.

Approached by local media, Darius Jauniškis, director of the State Security Department, said that the activity of detained persons was aimed at influencing political processes in Lithuania.

«People are recruited for this goal, capable of shaping the programs and structures of political parties directly or via intermediaries, using various media channels to contribute to strengthening Russia’s soft power in the country,» he said.

Established in 2008, the Socialist People’s Front and its former leader Paleckis have many times been mentioned in public intelligence reports on threats to national security.

«Indeed, his name was on and off during my term,» Grina confirmed to BNN.

Lithuanian intelligence has called the Socialist People’s Front a pro-Russian party and written about the party members’ participation in pro-Russian propaganda events against the United States and NATO.

In 2016, a VSD report pointed to more frequent Russian information and intelligence operations and bolstering of the «soft power» instruments which included «attempts to step up centralization and coordination of pro-Russian compatriots and their sympathisers».

As an example, the SSD pointed to the fact that Rafael Muksinov, a Socialist People’s Front member who was elected to the Vilnius Council, is chairman of the Compatriot Council in Lithuania, supported by the Russian federal agency Rossotrudnichestvo.

Spying is punishable with up to 10 years in prison in Lithuania. Paleckis has been detained for over a month.

Paleckis was one of the negotiators on Lithuania’s EU accession. He served as an MP in 2004-2007, and was a Vilnius vice mayor in 2007-2008. His father is former MEP and his brother has held an executive position in the National TV and Radio Broadcaster.

In 2008, Paleckis was expelled from the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania due to disagreements and open confrontation with the party’s leadership, and later founded the Socialist People’s Front party which he left early this year.

In 2012, Paleckis was sentenced for denying and grossly trivialized the fact of the Soviet aggression against the Republic of Lithuania when he said commenting the Soviet Union’s attempts to overthrow the then Lithuania’s government in early 1991 that «our own people were shooting at our own people».

With his new party, Paleckis made unsuccessful attempts to get into parliament in 2008 and 2012, and he also failed to be elected in single-member constituencies.

According to the Centre of Registers, Paleckis was currently the head of the public institutions Antakalnis Community and Public Project Centre.

Weighing in on Paleckis detention, PM Saulius Skvernelis said the released information clearly indicates that third countries’ intelligence agencies are actively seeking ways to influence Lithuanian domestic politics and other processes ongoing in the country. He believes that it is clear that their efforts are not yielding the desired results due to Lithuanian agencies’ work.

Interestingly, Skvernelis has recently turned to VSD himself, asking it to investigate whether the opposition Conservatives were not instigating massive teacher strikes in the country.

A group of teachers have left the premises of the Education Ministry only this week. They stayed there over three weeks protesting the new pay system.

Summoned this week to testify for the members of the parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee, the head of the State Security Department (VSD) Darius Jauniškis and Second Investigation Department (AOTD) head Remigijus Baltrėnas did assure that they have observed no hints of unrest in Lithuania.

«I recommend the Lithuanian people to make use of the period of concentration before Christmas and celebrate Christmas in peace, as well as celebrate New Year,» Baltrėnas stated when asked if the Lithuanian citizens should be concerned over threats inside the country.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the country’s embassy in Vilnius said on Wednesday that Lithuanian law-enforcement bodies’ new investigation into suspected spying for Moscow was «yet another anti-Russian campaign» and «a step away from democracy».

«Undoubtedly, the new fuss about spies is yet another serious and crude anti-Russian campaign by Lithuanian authorities,» the embassy emphasised.


Leave a reply

  1. Mike says:

    The Baltics “fear” Russia but with the embargo lifted will be the first to renew damaged business ties to a full scale!

COVID-19 prompts Latvian government to involve army in border patrol with Belarus

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks has issued an order for Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) to provide support to the State Border Guard by sending national guardsmen to organize additional patrolling of the Latvian-Belarusian border, as confirmed by the minister.

Lithuania puts COVID-19-related prosecution above human rights

What should come first in a time of emergency like the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Obviously, order, but what about human rights?

Idleness rules will apply to companies with tax debts in Latvia

The idleness regulations in Latvia will apply to companies with tax debts, as provided by amendments to Latvian government rules approved on Thursday, 2 April, to rules on companies affected by COVID-19 and who qualify for idleness support and other benefits.

Court to enforce nearly 12 000 euros from Gobzems for defaming Bunkus family

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has partially satisfied the plea from the surviving members of the family of the murdered lawyer Mārtiņš Bunkus against Saeima deputy Aldis Gobzems over defamation. The court has decided to enforce EUR 11 833 from him, as confirmed from the deputy.

Spain registers unprecedented job loss as lethal cases of COVID-19 exceed 10 000

In Spain, nearly 900,000 jobs have been lost since mid-March during strict measures to fight the coronavirus. 10,000 Spaniards have died from the virus disease, BBC reports.

Emīls Jakrins becomes board chairman of restaurant business company Vincents

Ex-Riga City Council’s Transport Department’s head Emīls Jakrins has become board chairman of architecture, design and restaurant business company LLC Vincents, according to information from Firmas.lv.

Jānis Vitenbergs approved in Latvia’s Economy Minister's post

On Thursday, 2 April, Latvia’s Saeima approved parliamentarian Jānis Vitenbergs as the country’s economy minister.

Large mine closes in Estonia after one of 800 miners tested positive for COVID-19

In Estonia, it has been decided to close one of two large oil shale mines after one miner tested positive for COVID-19, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltics. 458 cases in Latvia, 649 in Lithuania, 858 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 458, growing by 12 cases in the past day. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 649 confirmed coronavirus infection cases.

Germany to keep gathering restrictions past Easter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the situation with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany is far from being over as the government extended its strict rules for gathering in public places until April 19, DW reports.

Shuttle buses and express buses on hold in Riga

LLC Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has decided to shut down shuttle bus services on all routes in Riga until the state of emergency in Latvia is over, as confirmed by RMS.

Latvian government to finance COVID-19 crisis prevention efforts from state budget

Efforts to overcome the direct negative effects from COVID-10 crisis will be financed from the state budget. After the crisis, however, the economy will be stimulated using EU funds, as decided by Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ led work group for support of entrepreneurship and the employed on Wednesday, 1 April.

EU planning lending programme to support temporary work schemes

EU member states would guarantee the creation of a fund up to 100 billion euros aimed at providing loans to governments to support workers in countries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission plans, according to EurActiv.

Minister: repatriation efforts may be restarted mid-April

Repatriation efforts may be restarted in the middle of April, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits on 1 April at a conference of Latvian municipalities on public transport and traffic during a state of emergency.

Saeima committee supports writing off debts left from 2008 crisis

On Wednesday, 1 April, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported during a remote meeting the proposal to allow credit institutions to one-sidedly write off debts for mortgage loans taken prior to the 2008 economic crisis, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Belarus introduces ban on buckwheat exports

Belarusian government has prohibited temporarily the export of buckwheat and other staple foods, state news agency BelTA reported.

Moscow tests app for tracking infected people required to self-isolate

In Moscow, where a lockdown has been in place since the beginning of the week, a new smartphone app is being developed and tested aimed at ensuring that patients with mild symptoms adhere to their contract of self-isolation, Russian state news agency TASS reports.

Multiple of Nature Protection Office’s duties delegated to the State Environment Service

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry issued an order on 30 March to delegate multiple duties of the Nature Protection Office to the State Environment Service, according to information from LETA.

Latvian State Employment Agency received notifications for numerous planned lay-offs

Latvia’s State Employment Agency has received notification about planned lay-offs of 3 258 employees of 19 companies.

1 April onward entry to Jurmala by car will not be allowed without paying 2 euro fee

Wednesday, 1 April, marks the beginning of the the season when entry to Jurmala by car will require a 2 euro fee, as reported by Jurmala City Council.

Estonia looking at mass tests’ option to determine latency of COVID-19

The Estonian government has set itself the goal of mass tests of COVID-19 in the society, its Foreign Minister has revealed as the worst-hit Baltic country is looking at ways to overcome the outbreak, Estonian public broadcaster reports.

COVID-19 update in Baltic. 446 in Latvia, 581 in Lithuania, 779 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 446. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report 581 cases.

Countries rush to support production of lung ventilators, essential amid pandemic

Governments and medical institutions in the world seek to acquire many lung ventilators that can save lives in severe cases of the COVID-19 disease. France and Israel have made recent announcements in this respect, German public broadcaster DW reports.

Public catering companies to adopt new hygiene requirements as of 1 April

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has expanded requirements for public catering and retail trade companies, BNN was told by the ministry.

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia confirmed infected with COVID-19

At least 26 healthcare workers in Latvia have been infected with COVID-19, according to information reported by the Disease Prevention and Monitoring Centre expert Jurijs Perevoščikovs.


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!