Viewing cable 07VILNIUS742
Title: USPASKICH RETURNED FROM RUSSIA, RUNNING FOR

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VILNIUS7422007-10-18 08:12:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO2737
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0742/01 2910812
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 180812Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1693
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000742 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KCOR LH RS
SUBJECT: USPASKICH RETURNED FROM RUSSIA, RUNNING FOR 
PARLIAMENT 
 
REF: A. VILNIUS 104 
     ¶B. 05 VILNIUS 444 
     ¶C. 06 VILNIUS 814 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  On September 26, Viktor Uspaskich -- 
businessman turned politician, former Economy Minister, and 
fugitive for his alleged fraudulent use of campaign funds -- 
returned from Moscow to Lithuania.  He was immediately 
detained and is currently under pre-trial house arrest for 
six months.  At the same time, he is the Labor Party 
candidate in the October by-election for an open MP seat.  If 
he wins, he will receive immunity from prosecution, unless 
the Parliament votes to cancel it.  His return will give a 
much needed boost to diehard supporters of Labor, but it will 
likely not be enough to return the party to its former 
popularity.  End summary. 
 
Return from Moscow 
------------------ 
 
¶2. (U) Viktor Uspaskich spent almost 18 months in Moscow as a 
fugitive from Lithuanian authorities, who charged him with 
fraudulent use of campaign funds.  From Moscow, he has had 
several video and telephone appearances at Labor Party events 
and recently at a press conference; he was part of the party 
list for the municipal elections in February (ref A); and he 
applied for political asylum to the Government of Russia, 
claiming publicly that there were plans for his assassination 
if he returned to Lithuania.  Media reports allege that the 
Labor Party's improper accounting of campaign funds hid 10 
million USD and its unpaid taxes could be as high as 1.5 
million USD.  Because of these alleged infractions, the Labor 
Party has not received about 1.5 million USD in public 
funding that it otherwise would have received this year. 
 
¶3. (U) On September 26, Uspaskich returned to Lithuania and 
was immediately detained at the airport.  While charges are 
pending, a court committed him on September 27 to six months 
of house arrest in his adopted hometown of Kedainiai, where 
he made his fortune and was a force to be reckoned with in 
the political and business worlds for more than a decade (ref 
B).  Uspaskich cannot leave the city of Kedainiai and must be 
in his house from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.  Uspaskich's lawyers 
challenged the pre-trial home arrest, saying it is unduly 
restrictive and hinders Uspaskich's participation in the 
election in Alytus, but lost their appeal. 
 
Chances to win MP seat:  Not bad 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (U) Uspaskich is running for an open MP seat for the 
Alytus city region.  Labor did well in this district during 
its brief peak of popularity, but still lost the 2004 
parliamentary election to a Conservative candidate.  (The 
winner from 2004 gave up his seat to become mayor of Alytus 
in February, prompting the current by-election.)  In the 2007 
municipal elections, Labor garnered only 4 percent of the 
vote, below even their poor showing nationwide of 7 percent. 
Uspaskich has high name recognition, however, and local anger 
over the recent bankruptcy of a large textile firm 
complements the Labor Party's populist rhetoric.  MPs receive 
immunity from prosecution, and this would apply to Uspaskich 
if he won (any prosecution would be on hold as long as he 
remained an MP, unless the Parliament cancelled his immunity 
with a three-fifths vote). 
 
¶5. (U) In a field of ten candidates for the empty seat, 
Uspaskich garnered 20.3 percent of the first-round vote, 
trailing only Kestutis Cilinskas, the Conservative Party 
candidate, at 30.3 percent.  Voter turnout was only 26 
percent.  Cilinskas and Uspaskich will participate in a 
run-off election on October 21.  Cilinskas is a member of the 
board of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (one of 
Lithuania's leading NGOs) and was Chancellor of the 
Government under Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius 
(1996-1999).  He is a successful attorney currently known for 
representing the wife of Vytautas Pociunas, a State Security 
Officer who fell from a balcony in Belarus and died in August 
2006 (ref C).  He also represents a worker at one of 
Uspaskich's factories who protested "under the table" salary 
payments (a common practice by employers in Lithuania to 
avoid paying social security and other taxes) and was 
subsequently fired.  The lawsuit is against the factory 
manager and not Uspaskich himself, but it serves to highlight 
the differences between the candidates.  Neither candidate 
lives in Alytus.  Cilinskas lives in Vilnius, Uspaskich in 
Kedainiai. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
VILNIUS 00000742  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
¶6. (C) If Uspaskich becomes an MP he will use that and his 
"persecuted" status -- underdogs and victims are popular in 
Lithuania -- to help his party in the October 2008 general 
elections for Parliament.  His party, however, has fallen far 
from its peak in 2004 when Labor won 39 of 141 seats in 
parliament, the biggest share of any single party.  Even with 
a victorious return to parliament by Uspaskich, it will be a 
long shot for Labor to win even half that many seats in 2008. 
 
CLOUD