Viewing cable 05VILNIUS326

05VILNIUS3262005-03-25 16:03:00 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 03 VILNIUS 000326 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2014 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 104 
     ¶C. VILNIUS 174 
     ¶D. VILNIUS 219 
     ¶E. VILNIUS 231 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Gregory Bernsteen for 
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  Russia's envoy to Lithuania has provoked 
high-level outrage and calls for his expulsion with 
sharp-tongued criticism of Lithuanians and thinly veiled 
threats to interrupt the country's energy supplies.  Most 
local analysts believe the Russian's sudden high-profile 
gibes - after 18 months of relative obscurity on the job - 
reflect Russian pique at Lithuanian President Adamkus's 
refusal to participate in World War II commemorative events 
in Moscow on May 9, and aim to portray Lithuania to its 
western partners as unduly provocative to Russia.  Others 
ascribe the outbursts to the Russian's mercurial temperament 
and maintain that bilateral relations are fine.  It remains 
to be seen whether Lithuania will play along with the former 
scenario and ratchet up tensions more by expelling Tsepov. 
A Rising Tension 
¶2. (U) Russian Ambassador Boris Tsepov in a front page 
interview in Lithuania's second-largest newspaper 
"Respublika" on March 24: 
--Sharply criticized Lithuania as "not a country, but a den 
of scandalmongers," where "everyone is dirty ... and happy 
that none is clean." 
--Contended that "anti-Russian spice is everywhere, and 
Russians are blamed for everything." 
--Noted Lithuania's precarious dependence on Russian energy 
resources and warned that Russia could sell to whomever it 
--Scoffed that Lithuania behaves immaturely, and sees the 
hand of Moscow and the KGB everywhere. 
¶3. (U) The Tsepov interview prompted a firestorm of criticism: 
--President Adamkus stated that Tsepov's comments were "not 
fully in line with diplomatic ethics."  The President's 
foreign policy advisor Edminas Bagdonas said Tsepov had gone 
"over the top." 
--Speaker of the Parliament Arturas Paulauskas said that the 
comments "do nothing to improve our relations." 
--Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas remarked, "He is 
Russia's official, not ours, so let Russia assess him." 
-- Foreign Minister Valionis and others in the MFA have 
publicly questioned whether Tsepov's statements require him 
to depart.  MFA Undersecretary Albinas Januska commented that 
he did not see how the Russian diplomat could continue his 
work in Lithuania. 
The interview also jammed Lithuania's heavily politicized 
internet chat rooms with hundreds of comments, some agreeing 
with Tsepov's charges, but many calling for Tsepov's 
immediate expulsion. 
A Worsening Climate 
¶4. (U) The storm surrounding Tsepov's interview is the latest 
in a series of incidents bedeviling Lithuanian-Russian 
relations in the wake of Adamkus's March 7 decision to miss 
the May 9 festivities in Moscow: 
-- A Russian radio station requested entry permits for twelve 
journalists, more than any local radio staff.  (Lithuania 
approved four.) 
-- Lithuania's Education Ministry has raised concerns about 
allegedly unlicensed private police training facilities under 
Russian ownership operating in Lithuania.  The media 
insinuated that these academies, which turn out hundreds of 
graduates annually, may be a Russian mechanism to obtain 
-- Seimas Speaker Arturas Paulauskas publicly accused Russian 
diplomats of attempts to gain information about Lithuania's 
political processes and the official decision-making about 
Lithuanian attendance at the May 9th celebrations in Moscow 
from members of parliament.  Officials, including opposition 
leader and Conservative Party member Andrius Kubilius and the 
State Security Department, characterized Paulauskas' remarks 
as overwrought, but the press insinuated parallels between 
the diplomats in question and certain of their colleagues 
whom Lithuania expelled for inappropriate behavior. (NOTE: 
Lithuania expelled three Russian diplomats last year, and 
nine during the last two years.) 
-- Tsepov described Lithuania's leading daily as "yellow 
press" and called the editor "uncivilized" after journalists 
taunted him for failing to anticipate Adamkus's decision not 
to attend the May 9 events.  Foreign Minister Valionis 
sharply and publicly rebuked Tsepov's criticism of the 
newspaper, telling him to worry more about press freedom in 
Russia and threatening further expulsions of Russian 
-- Russian Foreign Ministry's website said that Sergei Lavrov 
had chastised FM Valionis for Adamkus's refusal to travel to 
Moscow for May 9.  Valionis disputed this interpretation and 
maintains that the conversation was cordial, and the 
offending report soon disappeared from the website. 
¶5.  (U) These episodes occurred against the backdrop of a 
revelation of a list of pre-independence Lithuanian KGB 
reservists and the subsequent parliamentary investigation of 
three public figures on the list, including Foreign Minister 
Valionis and the head of the National Security Service 
(VSD)(refs A and B).  The publicity surrounding the 
parliamentary conclusions raised questions about Russian 
influence on Lithuania's political process.  Although 
Parliament (Seimas) accepted the commission's findings that 
the FM and Security chief had not collaborated with the KGB, 
one parliamentarian, Petras Grazulis, has begun a hunger 
strike, demanding the FM and VSD chief resign. 
Provocation by Design? 
¶6. (C) Many analysts believe Tsepov's anti-Lithuanian 
broadsides reflect a calculated Russian campaign to provoke 
an intemperate Lithuanian response.  The Prime Minister's 
foreign affairs advisor, Darijus Pranckevicius, told us that 
there was no doubt that the Ambassador Tsepov was acting 
under instruction to increase pressure on Lithuania following 
Adamkus's decision not to go to Moscow for the May 9 
celebrations.  He further suggested the Russians aim to show 
Lithuania and the other Baltic countries in their worst light 
and to test how far they can push Lithuania before provoking 
a strong reaction. 
¶7. (C) Others ascribe Tsepov's provocative outbursts as more 
in keeping with his own personal volatility.  (Note: Tsepov 
is known on the local diplomatic circuit for emotional 
outbursts.  End Note.)   The head of the Russia Division at 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arunas Vinciunas told us that 
he does not see an overarching, Moscow-directed strategy 
behind Ambassador Tsepov's recent comments.  He described the 
ambassador as "arrogant and prone to stupid comments," and 
proffered the theory that the ambassador expects Moscow to 
recall him shortly, and is speaking out of frustration. 
Vinciunis mentioned that he has good working-level relations 
with Russian officials, with the example that in three hours 
of meetings today with Russian diplomats, the topic of the 
Ambassador's comments did not come up.  He predicts that 
after May 9, much of the current tension will ease. 
Comment: More to Come, Unfortunately 
¶8. (C) Concerns that Lithuania-Russia relations would 
deteriorate once Adamkus refused to attend the May 9th 
ceremonies in Moscow are proving accurate.  Moscow appears to 
be engaging in a calculated barrage to damage the credibility 
of the Baltics, Lithuania in particular.  Lithuania's dormant 
anger against the Soviet occupation and constant undercurrent 
of worry about Russia's influence makes them a willing foil. 
While there is also a current of pragmatism in Lithuania's 
relationship with Russia (ref C), it seems likely that the 
GOL's ultimate reaction to Tsepov's tirade will go beyond 
rhetorical denunciations - we wait to see how far.