bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Friday 18.01.2019 | Name days: Antis, Antons
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!

New Unity’s candidate to continue talks with partners on government declaration over weekends

New Unity’s prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš plans to continue working on the government declaration, cooperation agreement and fiscal discipline agreement over Saturday, 19 January, as confirmed by New Unity’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.

Head of Riga City Council’s committee reports results of non-existent vote; dismissal follows

As the chairperson of Riga City Council’s Social Affairs Committee, Olga Veidiņa from Harmony, submitted a written report to the mayor, detailing how all members of her committee had allegedly voted in favour of paying a bonus to Orphan Court chairman Aivars Krasnogolovs even though such a topic was never discussed by this committee, BNN was told by opposition deputy Marija Balcere from New Conservative Party.

1991 Barricades commemoration events in Latvia

One of the most notable chapters in Latvia’s newest history was written in January 1991 – the barricades period, when Latvian residents commemorate the victims and feel pride for the bravery of the nation in defending their country’s freedom.

MEP: Britain’s non-exit from EU is no longer possible

It is no longer possible for Britain to stay in the European Union. Even British politicians who have spoken against Brexit admit as much, said Latvian MEP Roberts Zīle in an interview to Rīta panorama.

Dismissal of Nils Ušakovs alone would not change a thing in Riga

«No change will come without dismissal of Riga City Council and its subsequent re-election. Activities that point towards the possibility of corruption did not appear solely during the term of the current team at Riga City Council. Its roots date a long way to the past. This means cleaning and general disinfection efforts should be very thorough. Dismissing Nils Ušakovs alone would not help change a thing. Ušakovs both maintains and serves the system,» said opposition deputy Jānis Ozols in a conversation with BNN.

Proposal to make ports state capital association faces no major objections in Latvia

No major objections have been voiced so far against transport minister candidate Tālis Linkaits’ proposal on reforming ports as state capital associations.

Latvia’s forming coalition promises to be more open to opposition

The forming coalition in Latvia may consider proposals from the opposition and even support the more constructive of them, said prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 17 January.

Air temperature in Latvia may drop as far as -21° C next week

After the windiest and snowiest week, as anticyclone activity increases, weather in Latvia will become more stable – it will become drier and considerably colder.

Lithuania’s ruling majority swings at media freedom, experts warn

All media, the so-called fourth authority of power, has been facing some international challenges, with the European Parliament set to vote next Monday on final text of Article 13, the proposed EU directive on copyright, which, if implemented, could censor internet users and internet platform hosts through artificial intelligence-employing filters.

Riga Active Seniors Alliance: seniors’ behaviour on the road should be discussed

Riga Active Seniors Alliance supports Latvian State Police informative safety campaign that addresses the behaviour of pedestrians on the road. This campaign invites seniors to pay attention to their own behaviour to ensure safe movement without putting at risk other traffic participants.

New healthcare service principle’s adoption in Latvia postponed until July

The rights to receive healthcare services as part of state compulsory healthcare regardless of their health insurance contributions will remain available for residents until 30 June 2019, Latvian Saeima has decided.

150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

Estonian state energy giant Eesti Energia, which mostly generates energy from fossile oil shale plants will reduce its operations at the Narva power plants, resulting in 150 job cuts.

Opinion: Russia will definitely interfere with European Parliament elections

According to Latvian member of the European Parliament Inese Vaidere, Russia will definitely attempt to interfere with upcoming European Parliament elections.

In no-deal Brexit, border control in Ireland would be obligatory

In an interview with the British news portal The Guardian, Michael Lux, a former head of customs legislation and procedures at the European commission, said the UK would have to impose customs checks and tariffs on the northern side of the border, despite claims to the contrary by Brexiters.

Opinion: Daugavpils City Council doesn’t want emergency elections; to agree on new mayor

Daugavpils City Council deputies Rihards Eigims and Andrejs Elksniņš are afraid of voters’ opinion in regards to emergency elections. Because of that, they will agree on the next mayoral candidate at the 17 January meeting, said Latgale party representative Jānis Lāčplēsis.

Scientists suggest sustainable diet to save the planet and prevent premature deaths

An international group of 37 scientists has developed a diet that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.

Latvian parties taking too long on compiling government cooperation documents

Although work on the new government’s cooperation documents has taken more time than initially expected, Latvian prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš still hopes for the government to be approved next week.

Ministry: more children end up in families in Latvia not through foster families or guardians

More and more children in Latvia end up in families not through adoption, but through foster families or guardians, says Welfare Minister’s office manager Linda Baļčūne.

Estonian population continues to increase, mostly due to immigration

Estonia has registered population growth for the third consecutive year as 4,690 more persons lived in the Baltic country on January 1, 2019 than a year before, official statistics show.

Sweden to nominate head of government, who could finally be confirmed

In the Swedish parliament, three parties have stated they would not vote against caretaking Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to have another attempt to form a center-left government after a four-month political crisis.

In 2018 Latvia experienced more rapid growth of car registrations than EU

Last year the number of newly registered cars in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union, according to the latest data from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Latvian government prepares legislation to protect rights of Latvian in Britain after Brexit

Latvian government has started working on a document that provides for the protection of rights of Latvian citizens working in Britain and vice versa after Brexit, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Karolis Sankovski appointed as chairman of RB Rail council

A new council chairman has been appointed in Baltic joint company RB Rail. Riia Sillave and Edvīns Bērziņš were picked as vice-chairmen, as the company reports.

airBaltic carried record number of passengers in 2018 – 4.1 million

Latvian airBaltic airline carried a total of 4,136,711 passengers to different destinations in 2018. This is 17% more when compared to 2017. The number of passengers carried in 2018 is airBaltic’s all-time highest, as BNN was told by the company.

KPV LV to decide on dismissing Kaimiņš as vice-chairman of party’s faction

KPV LV party’s Saeima faction plans to discuss the proposal of dismissing Artuss Kaimiņš from the post of the faction’s vice-chairman.