C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000947
STATE FOR EUR/NB AND INR/I
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2015
TAGS: PINR SOCI LH
SUBJECT: ORGANIZED CRIME IN LITHUANIA (C-CN5-00417)
REF: STATE 146246
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Alexander Titolo for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).
(U) In response to reftel questions regarding organized crime
in Lithuania, post provides the following responses:
Â¶A. (U) ARE THERE ORGANIZED CRIME GROUPS PRESENT IN THE HOST
COUNTRY THAT ORIGINATED IN THE FOLLOWING COUNTRIES: RUSSIA,
UKRAINE, ITALY, THE BALKANS (ALBANIA, SERBIA, BOSNIA), JAPAN,
GREATER CHINA (CHINA, HONG KONG, MACAU, OR TAIWAN), OR WEST
AFRICA? WHAT IS THE EXTENT OR NATURE OF THEIR PRESENCE?
(C) ANSWER: Lithuanian National Police (LNP) authorities
told us that Russian and Ukrainian organized crime (OC)
elements are present in Lithuania. These groups seek and
receive consent to operate from indigenous (ethnic
Lithuanian) OC groups. Lithuanian OC leaders limit the scope
and scale of the activities of the outside groups. The lines
between domestic and outside organizations sometimes blur,
chiefly because approximately six percent of the population
of Lithuania is ethnically Russian.
Â¶B. (U) WHAT TYPES OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY ARE THESE GROUPS
ENGAGED IN? WHAT IS THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE CRIMINAL
(C) ANSWER: LNP lists, in order of importance and prevalence,
the following typical OC criminal activities: auto theft,
drug trafficking, human trafficking, contraband smuggling
(i.e. cigarettes and alcohol), and white collar crimes (i.e.
tax fraud and money laundering). These activities add
uncertainty to the business climate and occasionally taint
political actors, but criminal activity and its impact on the
economy and the nation in general is less than what it was
during the 1990's.
(C) High-profile Lithuanian OC leaders and their family
members have repeatedly sought visas for travel to the United
States, though their motives for travel remain unclear.
Â¶C. (U) WHAT FRONT COMPANIES DO THE GROUPS USE? WHAT
RELATIONSHIP, IF ANY, IS THERE BETWEEN THE CRIMINAL GROUPS
LISTED ABOVE AND CRIME GROUPS INDIGENOUS TO THE HOST COUNTRY?
ARE THERE INDICATIONS THAT THE GROUPS LISTED ABOVE COOPERATE
WITH EACH OTHER OR OTHER INTERNATIONAL CRIMINALS?
(C) ANSWER: LNP told us that outside OC groups utilize a
variety of front companies, including import/export
businesses and financial institutions.
(C) Lithuanian and foreign OC leaders usually hold meetings
outside of Lithuania. Lithuanian OC groups collaborate with
OC interests in other countries, particularly Ukraine and the
Czech Republic. LNP said that Lithuanian OC elements focus
almost exclusively on human smuggling in their cooperation
with Czech criminal groups.
Â¶D. (U) ARE THERE INDICATIONS OF LINKS OR CONNECTIONS
BETWEEN THESE GROUPS AND TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS IN THE HOST
(C) ANSWER: The LNP has not observed any links or connections
between OC groups and any terrorist organizations.
Â¶E. (U) IS THERE EVIDENCE OF CORRUPT RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN
THESE GROUPS AND HOST COUNTRY BUSINESSMEN OR GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS? WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THESE RELATIONSHIPS? IF
POSSIBLE, PLEASE PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF THESE CRIME GROUPS
COERCING BUSINESS OR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.
(C) ANSWER: An LNP official told us that many Lithuanian
political leaders have personal connections with OC members
stemming from childhood friendships. The perception of
significant linkages between OC and political leaders was
common in the years after Lithuania regained its independence
in 1991. Most political observers believe that these
linkages have significantly diminished in recent years.
Accusations of ties to OC continue to carry much weight in
the political arena, however, as the 2004 impeachment of
former President Rolandas Paksas on charges stemming from his
ties to alleged Russian criminal figures demonstrated.