Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1442
Title: FORMER AMBASSADOR'S CSIS PAPER CAUSES A

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04VILNIUS14422004-11-26 09:49:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS  VILNIUS 001442 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
EUR/PPD FOR JOANN LOCKARD 
EUR/PA FOR MARGO SQUIRE/CARLOS ARANAGA 
EUR/NB FOR MARIA GERMANO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL LH RS
SUBJECT: FORMER AMBASSADOR'S CSIS PAPER CAUSES A 
PROMINENT TALKING HEAD TO ROLL 
 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1.  (SBU) Top TV journalist Edmundas Jakilaitis resigned 
over an incident in which he reported that a "secret" 
U.S. document warned of the dangers of Russian influence 
over Lithuanian politicians such as Russian-born Labor 
Party Leader Viktor Uspaskich.  The document turned out 
to be written by former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania 
Keith Smith for the Center for Strategic and 
International Studies (CSIS) and was posted on the CSIS 
website at least one month prior to its "leak."  No names 
were mentioned in the document.  Jakilaitis claimed he 
was pressured into resigning by interfering owners who 
feared getting on the wrong side of Uspaskich -- expected 
to be Minister of Economy in the newly-forming GOL. LNK 
TV station director Paulius Kovas denied external 
pressure and insisted that Jakilaitis was fired for 
sloppy journalism.  The contents of the Smith article 
were only slightly debated publicly, but its allegations 
of pervasive Russian influence here are likely to return 
to the spotlight.  For now, the high-profile Jakilaitis 
remains the focus of the story. End Summary. 
 
"SECRET U.S. DOCUMENT" IS REALLY CSIS PUBLIC PRESENTATION 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
¶2.  (SBU) LNK TV news service director Edmundas 
Jakilaitis reported November 16 that a "secret U.S. 
document" in his possession described U.S. concerns about 
Russian influence over Lithuanian politicians. 
Jakilaitis named Labor Party Leader Viktor Uspaskich and 
his deputy Antanas Bosas specifically as politicians who 
had links to Russian energy concerns through which 
Russian Intelligence Services are operating to influence 
events in Lithuania.  Upon hearing the report, PAS Media 
specialist called Jakilaitis, who did not divulge his 
source but said the author of the report was Keith Smith, 
who served as U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania from 1997- 
¶2000.  We found the report on the Web.  It turned out to 
be a presentation given by Smith at a CSIS conference on 
October 19.  The paper is dated August 26. 
 
DAMAGE CONTROL 
-------------- 
 
¶3.  (U) The media began to inundate PD officers with 
questions regarding the secret report and the Embassy's 
opinion of Uspaskich.  The Embassy released a brief 
statement that the report was neither a USG document nor 
was it secret.  Shortly after acquiring the report 
themselves, journalists began asking for our opinion on 
the contents of the report, but they were satisfied with 
the answer that it was not a USG document. 
 
¶4.  (SBU) The story turned against Jakilaitis when the 
focus of reporting moved from  the Smith presentation to 
mistakes made by Jakilaitis.  The evening of November 17, 
Jakilaitis issued a correction that the document was not 
official but came from a former high-level official in 
the USG.  Jakilaitis said his source led him  to believe 
the report was secret. (NOTE: Three different people 
speculated to us that Lithuanian Ambassador to the U.S. 
Vygaudas Usackas may have been Jakilaitis's "source".) 
 
DOWNFALL 
-------- 
 
¶5.  (U) Lithuania's second leading daily Respublika 
reported that Labor Party leader Uspaskich was furious at 
Jakilaitis.  In public, however, the leader of 
Lithuania's most popular party seemed serene.  In a 
televised interview, Uspaskich calmly spun our denial of 
the report's origin into a vote of confidence in him.  On 
November 19, Jakilaitis resigned. 
 
¶6.  (U) Jakilaitis followed his resignation with a 
November 22 press conference timed for when LNK General 
Manager Paulius Kovas planned to be out of the country. 
In the press conference, Jakilaitis announced that he had 
been forced to resign because of pressure from LNK 
owners, who he said feared crossing Uspaskich.  Kovas, 
tipped off to the conference, returned from the airport 
denying any outside pressure to fire Jakilaitis.  He said 
he asked Jakilaitis to resign because of his sloppy 
journalism -- including a prior plagiarism charge by 
Baltic1 TV which had accused Jakilaitis of reporting 
Baltic1 election survey data as his own. 
 
BULLET DODGED 
------------- 
 
¶7.  (U) Jakilaitis remained the focus of the story, but 
Ambassador Smith's presentation was given wide 
circulation and was even quoted in parliament. 
Conservative MP Rasa Jukneviciene asked PM-designate 
Algirdas Brazauskas on November 23 if he was aware of 
Smith's allegations that the Kremlin employed associates 
of the Russian gas giant Gazprom as an intelligence tool. 
"Are you confident that Uspaskich will be free from 
Gazprom and the direct influence of the Kremlin?" she 
asked.  Brazauskas responded saying, "I have been the 
head of the government for three and a half years and 
have not seen anything resembling what you have been 
saying to me now.  I can tell you absolutely frankly that 
I have not noticed any efforts or elements of blackmail 
or coercion in our economic relations with Russia." 
 
COMMENT: NEWS CYCLE ENDING BUT REPORT WILL LINGER 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
¶8.  (SBU) This affair included most of Lithuania's 
favorite topics in political intrigue: journalists 
entering the political fray, Russia, the United States, 
and top politicians.  Jakilaitis tried to tag Uspaskich 
with the "Russian-influenced" label by using a U.S. 
source to add credibility to his accusation -- a tactic 
tried and tested during the Paksas scandal.    We expect 
the Jakilaitis aspect of this issue to die down shortly, 
but assume that Uspaskich will continue to come under 
attack by Conservative MPs and the mainstream media who 
distrust him.  We also expect Conservatives and think 
tank types to raise the premise of the Smith article in 
the future.  End comment. 
 
¶9.  (U) Bio Notes: Jakilaits, 27, interviewed President 
Bush in 2002 prior to the NATO Prague Summit and is a 
talented, though apparently careless, journalist. 
Jakilaitis went on a Department-sponsored IVP for young 
European leaders in 2004.  He has landed on his 
feet,already being hired by Lietuvos Rytas TV (a 
television news program named after Lithuania's largest 
daily newspaper, which produces the show).  The program 
is broadcast on TV3, the top news station in Lithuania. 
LNK news producer Rolandas Agintas has replaced 
Jakilaitis in the top news spot at LNK. 
 
MULL