Viewing cable 06VILNIUS357
Title: PARLIAMENT OUSTS SPEAKER IN LATEST LITHUANIAN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VILNIUS3572006-04-12 13:19:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
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DE RUEHVL #0357/01 1021319
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 121319Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0066
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000357 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL LH
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT OUSTS SPEAKER IN LATEST LITHUANIAN 
POLITICAL DRAMA 
 
Classified By: Political-Economic Officer Nancy Cohen 
for reasons 1.4(d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1. (C) The Lithuanian parliament removed Speaker Arturas 
Paulauskas April 11 in an overwhelming vote of no confidence 
that resulted in his New Union party's departure from the 
ruling coalition.  It appears the remaining three coalition 
partners will succeed in retaining control of the government 
with a slim parliamentary majority.  Both New Union 
government ministers -- Foreign Minister Valionis (now 
traveling in Asia) and Social Welfare Minister Blinkeviciute 
-- have submitted their resignations.  Though Paulauskas's 
removal nominally resulted from charges of Parliamentary 
mismanagement, the episode probably masks a power struggle 
between the dominant coalition partner Labor Party and the 
Social Democrats of Prime Minister Brazauskas.  We expect 
Lithuania's foreign policy direction will remain solid while 
this new internal political drama plays out.  Senior 
officials assured us April 12 that the May conference on 
eastern European democratization that Vice President Cheney 
plans to attend remains on track.  End Summary. 
 
Rising Tide of Scandals and Acrimony 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶2. (U) The Parliament held the no-confidence vote on the 
initiative of Conservative Party leader Andrius Kubilius, who 
said he aimed to draw attention to recent scandals involving 
misuse of Parliamentary resources.  After the ruling 
coalition removed party discipline for their members on the 
issue, significant numbers of them joined with opposition 
deputies to deliver a 94 to 11 vote of no-confidence against 
Paulauskas in the 141-seat Parliament.  The no confidence 
vote follows a crescendo of allegations of public impropriety 
and government corruption that have dominated the front page 
for months.  Since late 2005, Prime Minister Brazauskas has 
been fending off charges that his wife illegally or 
unethically benefited from his office in a real estate deal 
that aimed to influence the sale of Lithuania's Mazeikiu 
Nafta oil refinery.  Since January, three presidential 
advisors have resigned their posts in response to allegations 
of impropriety.  Labor Party leader Viktor Uspaskich has 
launched repeated salvos at the President's office, alleging 
incompetence and deceit in managing the Presidency. 
 
Immediate Impact 
---------------- 
 
¶3. (U) The Parliament replaced Paulauskas with the Labor 
Party's Vydas Gedvilas as Acting Speaker until the coalition 
chooses a new speaker.  Immediately after the no-confidence 
vote, Paulauskas announced the withdrawal of his party from 
the ruling coalition, including Foreign Minister Valionis 
Antanas Valionis (now on a trip to China and South Korea) and 
Social Welfare and Labor Minister Vilija Blinkeviciute.  The 
fate of most of the NU's chairs of various parliamentary 
committees and deputy ministers remained unclear April 12, 
though the NU chair of the Anti-Corruption Committee, 
Algirdas Monkevicius, gave up his chairmanship. 
 
¶4.  (U)  The government's three remaining coalition partners 
-- the Labor Party of Russian-born tycoon Viktor Uspaskich, 
the Social Democrats of Prime Minister Brazauskas, and the 
Farmer's party of Kazimiera Prunskiene -- seemed set to hold 
on to government with a bare majority of 71 seats.  Social 
Democratic parliamentary floor leader Juozas Olekas told the 
media April 12 following a meeting of the coalition that his 
party expects the coalition will continue to function at 
three and that the Government will remain intact and that 
Brazauskas would not resign.  Olekas suggested that the Labor 
Party might name a permanent Speaker to replace Paulauskas. 
 
¶5. (U) Meanwhile, President Valdas Adamkus demanded April 11 
that the remaining coalition parties "assume full 
responsibility for governing" and "refrain from destabilizing 
the state." 
 
Opposition Aims to Exploit Instability 
-------------------------------------- 
 
¶6. (U) Despite the apparent determination of the remaining 
coalition partners to remain in power, opposition leaders 
believe they have an opportunity to bring down the government 
either through a new coalition or early parliamentary 
elections.  Opposition leader Andrius Kubilius told us that 
he hopes to meet April 12 with Olekas to discuss the 
 
possibility of forming a rainbow coalition government. 
Kubilius has also floated in the press the possibility of 
calling for new parliamentary elections.  So far, the 
remaining members of the ruling coalition of not expressed 
any public interest in either option. 
 
May Conference to Go Forward 
---------------------------- 
 
¶7.  (U) Meanwhile, senior Lithuanian diplomats briefed the 
Vilnius diplomatic community April 12 that the political 
crisis would have no impact on Lithuanian foreign policy. 
They confidently predicted that the May 3-5 conference on "A 
Common Vision for a Common Neighborhood" that Vice President 
Cheney plans to attend would take place as scheduled.  The 
Conference aims to facilitate greater transatlantic support 
for the fledgling democracies to Lithuania's east and south 
-- a theme the diplomats said would remain central to 
Lithuanian foreign policy. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶8. (C) It is clear that both the Laborites and Social 
Democrats gave their blessing to opposition efforts to remove 
Paulauskas, probably to widen the field in the two parties' 
ongoing struggle over power and the allocation of EU 
resources.  The possible impending nationalization and resale 
of the Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery within the next few weeks 
-- which could generate significant new financial resources 
for the government -- could also have played a role.  It 
didn't help that in addition to allowing the Parliamentary 
staff to abuse its privileges that Paulauskas has repeatedly 
ruffled feathers in the coalition.  Labor Party leader 
Uspaskich hardly conceals his disdain for his coalition 
partners, and it is reasonable to assume he seeks vengeance 
for the coalition's failure to support him in fighting his 
own allegations of corruption. 
 
¶9.  (C) We believe it unlikely that the opposition will soon 
get its wish to either participate in a new government or 
force new elections.  But the increasingly ugly overtones 
among the remaining partners in this fractious coalition seem 
a certain recipe for continued stress within the coalition. 
Fortunately for U.S. interests, this crisis seems likely to 
have no impact on Lithuania's continued staunch support for 
U.S. interests in Europe and beyond. 
MULL