Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1198

05VILNIUS11982005-11-09 16:13:00 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 001198 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2015 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Gregory L. Bernsteen for reasons 1.4(b) 
 and (d) 
¶1. (C) The Parliament narrowly voted November 8 to begin 
investigation of Prime Minister Brazauskas and his family's 
business interests, despite ostensible ruling coalition 
support for defeating the measure.  An opposition solidly 
united behind the Conservatives and the refusal of several 
coalition MPs to vote allowed the unexpected outcome.  A 
final vote on the proposal will occur November 10, when the 
coalition leaders will pull out all the stops to prevent the 
formation of an ad-hoc commission to conduct the 
investigation.  Tension inside the ruling coalition 
continues, as Labor Party leader Viktor Uspaskich subtly 
works behind the scenes to undermine Brazauskas's authority, 
even as he pledges his public support.  END SUMMARY. 
A surprising reversal for the PM 
¶2.  (U) The Parliament voted November 8 to establish a 
commission to investigate Brazauskas's wife and her ownership 
of Vilnius's Crowne Plaza hotel.  The opposition Conservative 
party has alleged that Mrs. Brazauskas received a sweetheart 
deal from a company connected to Russian oil company Lukoil 
Baltija in connection with her purchase of the hotel 
(reftel).  The Parliamentary opposition, in a rare show of 
cross-faction unity, voted en masse for the resolution, with 
no abstentions.  Coalition members, in accordance with the 
ruling council agreement reached last week, voted against the 
resolution or abstained.  The Conservative-supported measure 
won by a simple majority of only one vote -- 54 for, 27 
against, and 26 abstentions. 
Uspaskich flexes his muscles - again 
¶3. (C) Sixteen of the Labor Party's 39 MPs refused to 
register their presence in the Parliamentary chamber or 
quietly left just before Parliament began debate on the 
proposal.  If just one of these Labor members had voted (or 
even abstained), the coalition would have defeated the 
measure.  Labor MP Vladimir Orechov confirmed to us that 
their actions were part of Labor's strategy -- a 
demonstration of the Social Dem's (and Brazauskas's) 
dependence on Labor to get things done.  Orechov commented 
that Uspaskich and Brazauskas were meeting today, and that 
Uspaskich would likely use his leverage to improve his 
party's position within the coalition. 
It's not over yet 
¶4. (C) The Conservatives won the first vote, but there will 
be a second vote on November 10 to confirm the final text. 
The coalition has another chance to mobilize its solid 
majority to defeat the measure.  The Conservatives are 
pessimistic about their chances to prevail in this final 
vote.  Rasa Jukneviciene, Conservative MP, told us that the 
"majority will kill the commission, even if they have to 
violate the law to do it."  She predicted a party-line vote. 
The media is already reporting that the coalition is 
marshalling its forces, including calling back MPs currently 
traveling abroad. 
¶5. (C) Coalition MPs from several parties privately said that 
the Social Dems will do what it takes to prevail during the 
second vote.  Algirdas Paleckis, Social Dem MP, told us that 
their goal is to have enough MPs to ensure a majority even if 
some of the Labor MPs refuse to back Brazauskas. 
Next steps 
¶6. (U) Chances are slim that Brazauskas will follow through 
immediately on his threat to resign, even if the 
Conservatives manage to find a majority in the November 10 
vote.  The Social Dems have said they would file appeals to 
the Ethics Commission and the Constitutional Court in an 
attempt to overturn the vote on technical grounds. 
¶7. (U) The Conservatives still believe that the petition they 
submitted with the signatures of more than 40 MPs should have 
established the commission without a vote.  If the 
Conservatives lose the second vote, they will try to appeal 
to the Constitutional Court as well, but are unsure of their 
chances for success. 
¶8. (C) The Conservatives have succeeded beyond their own 
expectations, but will have a tough time in the second round 
if coalition discipline holds.  Win or lose, they have both 
weakened Brazauskas and achieved their goal of making it more 
difficult for Lukoil to purchase the Mazeikiu Nafta oil 
refinery.  However, they have also put wind in the sails of 
Uspaskich, who may demand that the Social Dems cede control 
of a ministry or two to Labor in return for Labor's support.