Viewing cable 05VILNIUS104

05VILNIUS1042005-01-28 14:38:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000104 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2015 
Classified By: Ambassador Steve Mull; Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C) Foreign Minister Valionis told Ambassador Mull 
January 27 he suspects Russian special services are behind 
recent public charges that he and State Security Department 
(VSD) chief Pocius had obscured past KGB links.  Valionis, 
citing reports of Russian unhappiness over his recent role in 
thwarting Russian interests here, said the Russian operation 
probably intends to drive the two from office.  Nevertheless, 
he is confident a parliamentary inquiry will exonerate them 
both.  Valionis's theory is plausible, but internal coalition 
politics could also be at the root of his recent troubles. 
The case is likely to arouse anti-Russian feelings through 
the next several months, even as Lithuanians emotionally 
grapple with World War II commemorations in Moscow May 9.  In 
any case, Valionis's and Pocius's track records of vigilance 
against Russian influence and their friendship to U.S. 
interests tend to undermine the charges' validity.  End 
¶2.  (C) Valionis invited the Ambassador for a private meeting 
to convey a congratulatory message to Secretary Rice 
(septel), reaffirm Lithuania's commitment to lead a PRT in 
western Afghanistan, and discuss the recent charges against 
him.  (Note:  As reported septel, earlier in January, a 
right-wing Lithuanian publication "Atgimimo" (Rebirth) had 
published reports that he and Pocius had obscured their past 
service in the KGB reserve in the 1980's.  Lithuania's 
parliament established a commission in mid-January to review 
the charges and make recommendations.  Valionis claimed he 
had provided a full accounting of his KGB reserve experience 
before his appointment as Ambassador to Poland in 1994; 
Pocius, after claiming to be unaware of being listed on KGB 
reserves, later admitted it.  End note.) 
¶3.  (C) Valionis said he had learned definitively that an 
obscure source had paid the magazine to run the article 
against him and Pocius, but that he had not yet learned who 
had paid to place it.  Although admitting he had no concrete 
proof, Valionis said a number of factors lead him to suspect 
that the charges are part of a Russian intelligence operation 
that aims to exact revenge: 
      --Russian Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman 
Rogozin had a difficult meeting with Valionis during the 
former's visit to Lithuania in January 2003 over Russia's 
request to establish a transport corridor to Kaliningrad. 
Valionis said sources close to former President Paksas had 
told him that Paksas, then President-elect, and his foreign 
policy adviser Alvydas Medalinskas had promised Rogozin they 
would find a way to drive Valionis from office.  (Note: 
Medalinskas throughout the Paksas presidency went to great 
lengths to antagonize and embarrass Valionis, who gave back 
as good as he got.  End note.)  Valionis showed the 
Ambassador what appeared to be a third country report 
describing Rogozin's comments to the Russian government after 
the trip that Valionis was confrontational and hostile to 
Russian interests. 
      --Valionis had heard from European sources about 
continued Russian complaints over the past two years about 
Valionis's intransigence in opposing Russian efforts to 
secure a transport corridor to Kaliningrad. 
      --Valionis had played an active role, with Pocius, in 
engineering the expulsion of several Russian diplomats from 
Lithuania in 2004 for espionage. 
      --Russian sources had indicated to Valionis that 
Russian Baltic watchers had hoped parliamentary elections in 
October and the subsequent change in government would result 
in his removal from office.  His return to the foreign 
ministry in December for a new term, he believes, prompted 
Russian special services to launch the new attacks in order 
to drive him from office. 
¶4.  (C) Valionis, displaying a personal photographic archive 
of his active role in Lithuania's independence movement, 
dismissed allegations of his concealed relationship as false. 
 He noted he had declared his reserve status at the outset of 
his government service in 1994, and said he welcomed the 
parliamentary commission as an opportunity to exonerate him. 
Comment:  Not To Worry 
¶5.  (C) Valionis's theory of Russian manipulation is 
certainly plausible, given the large Russian intelligence 
presence in Lithuania and the ease of planting stories in the 
country's fractious, undisciplined media.  But there could be 
other factors -- Lithuania's new coalition government has 
gotten off to a rocky start with sniping among the partners, 
and there remains considerable hostility towards the foreign 
minister from former President Paksas's supporters.  Whoever 
is behind the charges, we believe any fear that Valionis and 
Pocius are somehow compromised by any past association with 
the KGB is unwarranted.  Both officials have strong track 
records of defending Lithuania against Russian interference 
and have been strong backers of tight relations with the U.S. 
 Regardless of who masterminded the campaign against the two 
officials and why, the story is certain to provoke 
anti-Russian feelings in a political scene already in turmoil 
about whether President Adamkus should participate in World 
War II commemorative events in Moscow on May 9.  That will 
make a constructive relationship with Russia in the months 
ahead regrettably all the harder to maintain.