Viewing cable 05VILNIUS662

05VILNIUS6622005-06-23 14:09:00 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 000662 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/21/2014 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 504 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Nancy Cohen for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  Lithuania's ruling coalition shows every 
indication of surviving the resignation of Minister of 
Economy Viktor Uspaskich, and Uspaskich's Labor Party shows 
signs it will emerge from this episode intact.  The Prime 
Minister and President look likely to accept Labor's nominee 
to replace Uspaskich in the Cabinet.  One potential source of 
instability remains -- the PM's party continues to seek to 
meddle in Labor's internal politics in a risky gambit to 
reduce Uspaskich's influence.  For his part, the ex-Economy 
Minister plans to stay on as head of the party he 
established.  Uspaskich says he will appeal the decision of 
the Ethics Commission that found he had used his public 
office to promote private interests.  If he succeeds, he will 
likely run in elections this fall for the parliamentary seat 
he just relinquished.  Despite internal political turmoil, 
Lithuania's strong support for U.S. foreign policy objectives 
remains solid.  End Summary. 
Government Stability 
¶2. (C) Cabinet members representing the three largest parties 
in the ruling coalition told the Ambassador that Uspaskich's 
Labor Party would remain in the coalition, despite its 
leader's resignation from both government office and the 
Seimas.  FM Antanas Valionis (Social Liberal) on June 20 said 
that he did not expect the Labor Party would pull out of the 
coalition over Uspaskich's reverses.  Defense Minister 
Gediminas Kirkilas (Social Democrat) told the Ambassador that 
the coalition would be around "for at least another year," 
and Interior Minister Ginataras Furmanavicius (Labor) said 
the partners would work to ensure that the coalition endured 
until the end of its mandate in 2008.  Furmanavicius noted 
that the Labor Party (which controls 40 seats in the 141-seat 
parliament) had done the math:  Labor is unable go it alone, 
and the numbers and politics do not add up for any other mix 
of coalition partners.  For his part, President Valdas 
Adamkus told the Ambassador that he is content that the 
coalition will survive, opining that reorganizing government 
now would drain everyone's attention and energy and impede 
progress on all other matters of concern. 
"More Trips to America!" 
¶3. (U) The Labor Party moved quickly following Uspaskich's 
resignation, and on June 23 nominated Kestutis Dauksys to 
become the next Minister of Economy.  Dauksys (45), who 
currently chairs the Labor Party's Finance and Tax Committee, 
is a member of the parliamentary Economics and Finance 
Committee and heads the Intelligence Oversight Committee. 
Like many in the Labor Party including the party leader, he 
comes to government from business.   Dauksys studied 
economics at Vilnius University, going on to be an assistant 
in the university economics department, and studied 
international marketing in Moscow.  PM Algirdas Brazauskas 
has announced he will recommend Dauksys to the President. 
Pending completion of Dauksys's background investigation and 
a green light from Lithuania's Special Investigative Service, 
media and the Ambassador's contacts in the Cabinet anticipate 
that Adamkus will approve the appointment on or about July 1. 
Ever the wag, Uspaskich told the press June 22 that his first 
piece of advice to Dauksys if he is confirmed will be to 
avoid travel to Moscow.  "More trips to America!" he said. 
Uspaskich: A Power on the Sidelines 
¶4. (C) DefMin Kirkilas acknowledged to the Ambassador that 
the Social Democrats' efforts to stage a coup within the 
Labor Party -- which he had confidently previewed to the 
Ambassador the week before -- had gained no traction. 
Kirkilas insisted, however, that the Social Democratic Party 
would continue to pursue its plan.  It still was "picking up 
whispers" in the corridors of the Seimas, he said, that some 
within the party may attempt to challenge Uspaskich for the 
party leadership.  In a separate meeting June 20, 
Furmanavicius dismissed suggestions that there would be any 
real challenge to Uspaskich and said that comments of other 
party officials to that effect had been cited out of context. 
 The Labor Party may lose a few members, Furmanavicius 
acknowledged, but will retain its strength. 
¶5. (C) Uspaskich has indicated he will stay on as leader of 
the Labor Party he founded less than two years ago.  Deputy 
Speaker of Parliament (Labor) Vydas Gedvilas told us that 
Uspaskich will also continue to participate in the 
coalition's Political Council.  The press reports that Labor 
is attempting to expand the purview of the Council, proposing 
to amend the coalition agreement to authorize the Council 
(and hence Uspaskich) to discuss, among other issues, the 
national budget -- normally the prerogative of the Government 
and Parliament, both of which bodies Uspaskich just resigned. 
...Planning his Return 
¶6. (C) Gedvilas said that Uspaskich will focus on appealing 
the ruling of the government Ethics Commission (ref A) that 
he had violated the law prohibiting conflict of interest 
among public servants, and will await the decision of the 
three parliamentary commissions currently investigating him. 
Should he clear his name, Gedvilas said, Uspaskich will run 
in fall elections in his home district of Kedainiai to 
reclaim the parliament seat he just vacated. 
¶7. (C) Uspaskich remains the unquestioned strongman of a very 
disciplined party, despite his recent dual resignation. 
While some ambitious opportunists may seek to take Uspaskich 
on within the party, it is hard to see how they would succeed 
given that Uspaskich bankrolls the party and is its 
charismatic public face.  Off-message comments of some Labor 
Party members do not necessarily presage a party coup, but 
rather suggest predictable growing pains in Lithuania's young 
Labor Party. 
¶8. (C) What is striking in all this apparent turmoil is that 
neither the Government, nor the Labor Party, nor, really, 
Labor's embattled leader have folded -- even as the 
coalition's second largest party, the PSD, continues to wage 
a covert campaign to manipulate events in the largest party. 
We attribute the coalition's endurance to the fact that there 
is currently no viable alternative to the uneasy partnership 
currently in power. 
¶9.  (C) Lithuania's continuing internal political turmoil, 
while exhausting and aggravating to most Lithuanians, has had 
no visible impact on its continued strong support for and 
activism on issues of key importance to the U.S. -- from 
promoting democracy in Belarus to helping stabilize 
Afghanistan.  It is significant that while the latest 
political crisis was unfolding, we were making a pitch at the 
highest levels for Lithuania's continued commitment to deploy 
troops in Iraq.  Not a single interlocutor indicated there 
would be a problem, in spite of the political storms.