2019.05.17 09:13

Court ruling on LRT investigation ‘meaningless’, governing party leader says

Sniegė Balčiūnaitė, Milena Andrukaitytė, BNS2019.05.17 09:13

The Constitutional Court's Thursday ruling on the LRT parliamentary investigation has “no factual meaning”, says Ramūas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS).

“That ruling has no factual meaning, because that investigation is discontinued, and the new bill has nothing to do with this conclusion,” Karbauskis told BNS Lithuania.

Earlier in the day, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, breached the country's Constitution by setting up a special commission to investigate the activities of the public broadcaster, LRT.

The Court said establishing such a commission violated the Constitution's article on the freedom of speech and that only state institutions independent from the political government could investigate LRT's finances.

Karbauskis noted that the violations identified by the Seimas commission were recognized by LRT's new management, adding that if tasked to carry out an investigation, no institution could have gotten hold of LRT's documents, because the public broadcaster was “a state within a state”.

“The current LRT administration admits that what was concluded by this commission is true, that is, it was mismanagement and many things which should have been done were not done,” Karbauskis said.

The LVŽS leader also said that despite the Constitutional Court's ruling he did not intend to withdraw a new LRT bill now under deliberation in the parliament, proposing changing the public broadcaster's management structure.

In his words, “nobody's arguing about the investigation's recital, everyone's arguing about the proposals, but the registered bill is totally different and the proposals are different from those in the conclusions”.

“The law should make LRT more transparent, because it's funded from the taxpayer money, and transparency and openness must be absolute,” Karbauskis said.

‘Important decision’

The Constitutional Court's ruling proves that political institutions should not interfere with the public broadcaster's activities, LRT Director-General Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė has said.

“The decision is important in that it confirms unambiguously that political institutions should not interfere with the public broadcaster's activities. There are special institutions for that purpose; they act under special legislation and have control functions,” she said on her Facebook page.

The court's ruling must be viewed in the context of a new bill on LRT that was drafted based on the commission's findings, Garbaciauskaitė-Budrienė added.

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