News2020.01.30 10:00

Lithuanian politicians jostle over Russian ties investigation of MP Rozova

BNS 2020.01.30 10:00

Opposition MPs have proposed to suspend a parliamentary investigation into Irina Rozova's alleged ties with Russian diplomats until the parliament decides whether to impeach the MP.

Meanwhile the chair of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence (NSGK) has called the move delay tactics to shield opposition MPs who are also part of the probe.

Rozova, who sits with the Electoral Action of Poles group in the Seimas, is suspected of having withheld information about meetings with Russian diplomats. The parliament opened an investigation into her actions last year, also planning to look into who knew about them.

Read more: Seimas moves to impeach Lithuanian MP over links with Russian diplomats

At the opposition’s initiative, the NSGK has asked the parliament's Commission for Ethics and Procedures and the Legal Department whether it can suspend the investigation. The parliament, Seimas, has given the committee until April 30 to conclude its probe.

The committee made the decision with six votes in favour and two against. The ruling bloc and the opposition are equally represented on the committee.

Opposition members on the NSGK have also collected the necessary signatures this week to launch impeachment proceedings against Rozova on the grounds that she could have grossly violated the Constitution and breached her oath of office by failing to report her ties with Russian diplomats.

The next step is for the Seimas to set up a special investigation commission to look at whether there are grounds for opening impeachment proceedings. However, the impeachment initiative was registered just before the close of the parliament's session.

The opposition suggests suspending the investigation and going ahead with the impeachment, since it is the only way to determine whether Rozova breached the oath of office.

“I suggest that we halt this investigation, initiate an extraordinary meeting of the Seimas, conduct the impeachment procedure and finally find out whether or not the Constitution was violated,” Vytautas Bakas, a non-attached MP, said. “Only then can we continue this investigation.”

“I suggest that we vote on the proposal to the Seimas to allow the investigation commission to suspend its investigation until the Rozova impeachment commission concludes its work and the Constitutional Court gives its conclusion,” conservative MP Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

NSGK Chairman Dainius Gaižauskas said he doubted that the investigation could be suspended.

According to Gaižauskas, the investigation and the impeachment procedure do not clash with one another. He has accused the opposition of seeking to delay the probe, because in involves looking into the actions of opposition MPs as well.

“In my opinion, the opposition is interested in delaying this investigation,” he told reporters after the NSGK meeting.

At the meeting, the committee heard testimonies from two former speakers of the Seimas, Vydas Gedvilas and Irena Degutienė, and Juozas Bernatonis, the chairman of the parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius were also invited to testify, but they provided their answers in writing.

Opposition MPs demanded that Skvernelis and Linkevičius answered questions in person. Conservative MP Laurynas Kasčiūnas, whom the NSGK also wants to question about access to classified information, said he would testify only after the prime minister had done so.

The parliamentary investigation was launched after it came to light that the Stare Security Department (VSD) had recommended in its report to Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, that Rozova be denied access to classified information.

The report says that Rozova and Russian diplomats discussed financial support for her party, the Russian Alliance, and that she had contacts with Russian Consul General Vladimir Malygin who was sent out of Lithuania in 2014.

The committee was also asked to look into actions by politicians who had information about Rozova.

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