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2019.08.22 13:00

Lithuanian MP's links to Russia under scrutiny

BNS2019.08.22 13:00

Lithuanian MP Irina Rozova was denied access to classified information because she concealed her contacts with foreign diplomats, the chairman of the Seimas' Committee on National Security and Defense (NSGK) said on Wednesday, adding that the parliament will be asked to set up an ad-hoc commission to look into the matter.

When asked by the State Security Department (VSD) to complete the “part [of the questionnaire] about whether one maintains personal contacts with staff of diplomatic missions of non-NATO and non-EU countries, Rozova concealed it, based on the information that was provided to us," Dainius Gaižauskas said after the NSGK meeting on Wednesday.

According to Gaižauskas, his committee will propose that the Seimas establish an ad-hoc inquiry commission regarding the VSD material about MP Rozova.

"We will ask Seimas to set up an ad-hoc inquiry commission (to look at) whether Rozova could have breached the oath and grossly violated the Constitution by concealing the circumstance in the questionnaire, due to which she was denied an authorization to handle classified information,” he said.

Read more: Lithuanian MP discussed ‘political situation, projects’ with Russian diplomats, opposition says

The commission would also look into why Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, and Vytautas Bakas, the then NSGK chairman, “took no steps to prevent potential risks to national security interests”.

Arvydas Anušauskas, a conservative member of the NSGK, confirmed to reporters that Rozova failed to report her contacts “with Russian diplomats who had other duties, too”, implying that the diplomats engaged in espionage.

When asked if the diplomats Rozova had contacts with have been ordered out of Lithuania, the MP said, “including them”.

Based on a VSD report, Pranckietis did not grant Rozova access to classified materials a year and a half ago.

At the request of Anušauskas and his fellow conservative MPs, Laurynas Kasčiūnas and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the speaker of the Seimas forwarded the intelligence agency's report about Rozova to NSGK members.

According to the conservatives, Pranckietis received the document on January 18, 2018.

Rozova is a member of the Russian Alliance and of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance's (LLRA-KŠS) political group in the Seimas.

Last week, the NSGK discussed Rozova's participation in an event of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) in Tbilisi that sparked protests in Georgia last June.

Read more: Lithuanian intelligence names Russian-led Orthodox forum a foreign policy tool

VSD Deputy Director Vaidotas Mažeika told journalists after the meeting that Russia was using the IAO for its foreign policy goals and described Lithuanian politicians' participation in the assembly as “a risk factor”.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says intelligence information that prevented MP Irina Rozova from getting access to classified information poses no problem for him in working in coalition with her parliamentary group.

“Certainly not,” the prime minister told reporters on Wednesday when asked if the information available to him might impede his work with the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance's (LLRA-KŠS) political group in the Seimas.

Skvernelis confirmed he had received information about Rozova a year and a half ago, but declined to comment on it, saying it was not public.

The prime minister said he had not discussed the issue with LLRA-KŠS leaders.

"I saw no need to do so," he said.

Skvernelis declined to comment on the initiative which might lead to the opening of impeachment proceedings against Rozova, noting that she “is not, was not and will not be a member of the government” and it is up to “the responsible authorities” to take measures.

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, does not comment on allegations that Rozova concealed her ties with Russian officials, saying that a parliamentary investigation is necessary to clarify all the circumstances.

“I understand that the committee has decided to conduct an investigation; it is necessary to clarify all the circumstances,” Karbauskis told reporters on Thursday, a day after the Seimas' Committee on National Security and Defense decided to initiate such a probe.

MP Irina Rozova says she just did not know that she had to give information about her contacts with Russian diplomats in a questionnaire she was asked to complete while applying for access to classified materials.

"My mistake was that I did not write this in that application. I just did not realize I had to tick (the box)," she told reporters.