Viewing cable 06VILNIUS922

06VILNIUS9222006-10-06 12:42:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
DE RUEHVL #0922/01 2791242
R 061242Z OCT 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000922 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2016 
Classified By: CDA Tom Kelly for reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
¶1. (C) Summary.  The surprise resignation on September 29 of 
one of Lithuania's most influential foreign policy figures 
has shaken the Foreign Ministry.  MFA Undersecretary Albinas 
Januska, long considered the Ministry's most influential 
official, has close ties to Lithuania's security services and 
the ear of President Adamkus.  Our own sources confirmed his 
comments to the press that he resigned due to the lack of 
support from Lithuania's political class with respect to 
(unsubstantiated) allegations of unsavory business 
connections and a conflict with a Lithuanian intelligence 
official who recently died in Belarus under mysterious 
circumstances (ref A).  An MFA official close to Januska 
accused Russian security forces of orchestrating the scandal 
by purchasing the press stories, a claim reiterated publicly 
by President Adamkus's domestic policy advisor.  End Summary. 
The Grey Cardinal 
¶2. (C) Albinas Januska's influence has resonated far beyond 
the walls of the MFA.  Januska entered the public stage as a 
member of Lithuania's Independence movement and signatory to 
Lithuania's Independence Act.  Dubbed the "Grey Cardinal" of 
the country's foreign and security policy by the Lithuanian 
press, he was the architect of several of the government's 
most important strategic initiatives, including last May's 
Community for Democratic Choice conference; the pending sale 
of Lithuania's oil refinery to Poland (and the earlier sale 
of the refinery to Tulsa-based Williams Corporation); and 
Lithuanian efforts to encourage democratic reform in other 
parts of the former Soviet Union.  Presidential advisor 
Simonas Satunas described Januska as part of the group of 
"patriots" who were present at the creation of Lithuania's 
independence, who worked to consolidate Lithuania's 
integration into the west, and who now feel let down by much 
of Lithuania's political class. 
¶3. (C) Januska worked closely with Lithuanian intelligence 
officials, and seemed to participate in domestic political 
intrigue as well.  In a conversation with us earlier this 
year, he claimed that the GOL (and, by extension, he himself) 
engineered the departure of Labor Party kingpin Viktor 
Uspaskich from Lithuania because of the latter's ties to the 
Russian SVR.  Januska was also well-informed about the 
delicate inter-party negotiations that led to the formation 
of the Kirkilas government.  Many observers here also 
attribute to Januska and his allies the investigations that 
led to the impeachment of President Rolandas Paksas in 2004. 
¶4.  (C) The reclusive Januska shunned meetings with more than 
a handful of individuals, preferring to hold court in his 
paper-strewn office.  He was also mercurial, including in his 
attitude towards the United States.  While he sometimes 
denigrated our nation for its "naivete," especially regarding 
Russia, Januska told former Ambassador Mull that the United 
States was "Lithuania's only reliable ally," and that 
expressions of support for Lithuania like Vice President 
Cheney's CDC speech in Vilnius last May were sources of 
"great inspiration." 
Undersecretary quits over allegations 
¶5. (C) Our sources confirm press reports that Januska chose 
to resign and was not pushed out.  Both the President and 
Foreign Minister publicly expressed disappointment with his 
decision, and the Prime Minister suggested that he may be a 
candidate for the post of PM's advisor.  Renatas Juska, a MFA 
official who worked daily with Januska, said that the Foreign 
Minister was surprised by Januska's resignation and initially 
refused to accept it. 
¶6. (C) In his first public interview since his resignation, 
Januska insisted (and our sources confirm) that he resigned 
over allegations in the press linking his past actions to 
unsavory business ties and the lack of support from 
Lithuania's political class to scotch the rumors.  "When 
criticism turns into open lies and forgery of facts," he 
said, "it is always better to resign."  Juska told us that 
Januska thought that the scandals in the press, while 
unsubstantiated, were impeding his work and negatively 
affecting the Ministry.  Juska specifically expressed 
Januska's disgust at talk of his "mystical power controlling 
Lithuania's ministries," an expression that also appeared 
paraphrased in the press.  "He wanted to act like a western 
official would act," Juska said, justifying Januska's 
VILNIUS 00000922  002 OF 002 
resignation once the scandal's started to interfere with his 
work.  Presidential advisor Simonas Satunas added that 
pressure is increasing on Januska's aggressively pro-West, 
pro-democracy camp, especially his close associates State 
Security Director Arvydas Pocius and Deputy Darius 
Jurgelevicius, who are subjects of the same allegations. 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Suspicions over conflict with intelligence officer 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
¶7. (C) Press reports focused on an alleged conflict between 
Januska and a Lithuanian State Security Department officer, 
Vytautas Pociunas, who died recently in Belarus under 
mysterious circumstances (ref A).  No one has implied that 
Januska had been involved in his death, but rather that 
Januska had arranged the "exile" of the high-level official 
to Belarus.  (Presidential advisor Satunas, who was close to 
Pociunas, refuted this claim, saying that Pociunas willingly 
sought out the job in Belarus.)  According to these press 
reports, Januska had Pociunas removed from his duties at the 
State Security Service because Pociunas, as Head of Economic 
Investigations Sections, authored reports detrimental to the 
interests of businessmen close to Januska and contrary to 
Januska's policies regarding a proposed transportation 
arrangement between Lithuania's port in Klaipeda and Russia's 
port in Kaliningrad.  These reports claim that Januska 
protected this "2K" deal to the detriment of Lithuanian 
interests in order to benefit specific businessmen linked to 
Januska.  Other press reports tied Januska to Rimantas 
Stonys, a Klaipeda-based businessman and head of a gas 
company with ties to Gazprom, whom Pociunas had also 
Russians in the trees 
¶8. (C) Juska told us that he "promised" that the entire 
scandal had been orchestrated by Russian security services 
because they blamed Januska for Lithuania's aggressive policy 
towards Russian interests.  Lauras Bielinis, President 
Adamkus's domestic policy advisor, made a similar claim in an 
interview with one of Lithuania's dailies.  He said that the 
Russian campaign against Januska was retaliation for 
Januska's threat to the Russian Ambassador that Lithuania may 
begin repair work on its railway serving Kaliningrad -- 
effectively severing this transportation link -- if Russia 
prolonged "repairs" on the pipeline that ceased supplying 
crude to Lithuania's refinery in late July, ostensibly 
because of an accident (ref B).  Even PM Kirkilas said 
publicly that there may have been "a dirty slander" campaign 
against Januska. 
Future plans 
¶9. (C) Januska was responsible for all bilateral relations, 
and it will take two well-regarded Undersecretaries to 
replace him at the MFA.  Laimonas Talat-Kepsa will take over 
Russia and CIS countries, and Political Director Zygimantis 
Paviolinis will take over all other bilateral relations, 
including with the United States, according to Pavilionis's 
deputy.  Januska's future is undecided at present.  Besides 
public hints that he may go to the PM's foreign policy team, 
Simonas Satunas, foreign policy advisor to the president, 
implied privately to the Charge that Januska could go abroad 
as Ambassador, although Januska has said publicly that he 
intends to work in Lithuania. 
¶10. (C) Blaming the Russians is a familiar explanation 
whenever a prominent Lithuanian falls victim to scandal, and 
we may never know the exact circumstances that led this 
enigmatic official to quit.  What perplexes us, however, is 
that Januska stepped down over such seemingly tangential and 
unsubstantiated accusations.  Based on what we know, he would 
have been able to ride out this storm if he wanted to.  At 
any rate, we believe that Lithuania's Svengali will remain 
active and influential in Lithuania's political and foreign 
policy circles for some time to come.