Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an internal investigation into suspected misconduct by the country's ambassador to Russia, Remigijus Motuzas.
“The ministry has launched an internal investigation based on the information provided by the Prosecutor General's Office,” Rasa Jakilaitienė, spokeswoman for the foreign minister, told BNS Lithuania on Monday.
Motuzas was named a special witness in an investigation into alleged visa issuance irregularities at the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow.
Last Friday, however, the Prosecutor General's Office said it had lifted Motuzas' special witness status, but handed over evidence about possible misconduct to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The special witness status is given to individuals in investigations when there is no sufficient evidence to bring official charges against them.
After the status change, Motuzas was questioned as a regular witness.
The ambassador was recalled for consultations from Moscow in early April due to his vulnerability and also threats against the embassy.
The investigation by the Prosecutor General's Office looks into the visa issued to the Russian banker Rinat Nasirov.
Formal suspicions of influence peddling have been brought against Nasirov, former diplomat Rimantas Šidlauskas, and Albinas Bieliauskas, a Lithuanian businessman.
Šidlauskas is suspected of taking a bribe in exchange for his promise to help Nasirov obtain a long-term Schengen visa.
The Lithuanian embassy in Moscow issued Schengen visas to Nasirov and his son in late March, based on an invitation letter from by Šidlauskas.
Ambassador Motuzas confirmed that Šidlauskas spoke to him on the phone before sending the invitation letter. The diplomat said Šidlauskas asked him to look “for everything to be ok”.
Motuzas said his reply to Šidlauskas was: "Ok, we'll have a look.” In his words, it was his usual response in such situations, something he “said and forgot”.
The diplomat said he received the invitation letter several days after the conversation and forwarded it to consuls without any additional remarks. According to the ambassador, the visa was issued to Nasirov in compliance with all the rules.
Motuzas served as Lithuania's ambassador to Russia since 2015.