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Friday, February 23, 2018

Viktor Uspaskich: my nationality and popularity

“How Russian can be in power in a country which is a NATO member and belongs to the European Union?” – with these words Viktor Uspaskich, the most famous politician of Lithuania of Russian origin, explained in an interview to the newspaper VIEW, the campaign waged against him by the authorities of Lithuania and the European Union.

The foreign Ministry of Russia stood up for the MEP from Lithuania Viktor Uspaskich, who was previously stripped of his parliamentary immunity. As stated before, a source in the Russian foreign Ministry, the European Parliament has delivered thus the authorities of Lithuania from a political opponent.

“They just had to remove me from the political arena, what is this thing”

“This decision was made at the request of the Prosecutor’s office of Lithuania, despite all the efforts of the leader of the ALDE (the faction “Alliance of liberals and Democrats for Europe”, which includes Uspaskich – approx. OPINION), former Prime Minister of Belgium, guy Verhofstadt, to convince my colleagues of the advisability of returning the issue to the EP Committee on legal Affairs for further study,” explained the position of Moscow, a source in the foreign Ministry.

Lithuanian MEP of Russian origin (Uspaskich is a native of the Arkhangelsk region, in Lithuania lives with 1987) was deprived of parliamentary immunity at the end of voting on March 25. The next day, the Agency Delfi reported that Uspaskich may not wait for the decision of the court of appeal and leave to Russia. The politician himself has not confirmed this message. “Can we really wait for the moment when Uspaskich will simply disappear out of sight of our law enforcement agencies”, – said the radio station Žinių radijas politologist Lauras Belinis.

As noted in the Russian foreign Ministry, during the vote in the European Parliament did not help the argument that in this case speech can go about trying to remove from the political scene of the Uspaskich-led Party of labour of Lithuania. A diplomatic source recalled that guidance on politically motivated pressure on Uspaskich contained in the publications of “Wikileaks”.

Victor Uspaskich said that the case against him was fabricated and is for the sole purpose of political pressure. About how managed to fabricate a case who is interested in it and why putting pressure on him, Uspaskich told the newspaper VIEW.

OPINION: Victor, you have repeatedly stated that the case against you was political. Recently a source in the Russian foreign Ministry said that the European Parliament, depriving you immunity, saved Lithuania from a political rival.

Viktor Uspaskich: Yes, exactly. The European Parliament did just that – eliminated political opponents. They have failed to beat me in the air, in the political arena, and they did just brought a criminal case. Even passed laws – specifically order such a thing to create.

OPINION: Until this law did not exist?

V. U.: Before the advent of the labour Party were no laws on the sole responsibility of the President, was not required strict accountability in the party. This introduced in the first six months after the party was registered and came in first place in popularity.

OPINION: do You think this is fabricated?

V. W.: of Course, this trumped-up political case. The charges are not for any company, business or bribes. Talking about accounting political organization. Thus released from responsibility all the accountants and all the blame hung on the chair – me. They just had to remove me from the political arena.

OPINION: It’s completely fabricated?

V. U.: the fact that I was doing a power of attorney to conduct all financial and legal Affairs, so that nowhere is there my signature. No witness that I gave some command to falsify the accounting. There is no document confirming operational data – and I’m listening to pictures – these data are not in. During a search in my home or in the office, too, nothing was found that would have been invested in this criminal case. Any cash not recorded – no I have not given or did not give me anything. So in fact, there is no direct evidence.

How would the Prosecutor and the first instance tried to fabricate a case, at the last meeting admitted that Uspaskich had no personal income from this business. It is written in the first instance verdict. The more that I took the post on a voluntary basis, had no contract and had not received anything from the labor Party.

OPINION: what, then, are the charges based?

V. U.: When I was Chairman of the party, there was one accountant. And she said in court that showed me this “black accounts”. By the way, earlier it was a criminal case that was closed after she gave this testimony. Accounting, remember, freed of all responsibility. I imagine they interviewed all the cleaners on this case, and the second accountant, who was the chief for fifteen years, the period for which there is an investigation, interviewed only a year and a half. They were not even interested in what he has to say.

VIEW: AND you can prove that the testimony of the accountant falsified?

V. U.: Yes. When the accountant told me that she supposedly showed me this documentation, it is called the date and the place where it was. I was then the Minister of economy and member of Parliament. She said she came to the Parliament, where he showed me the paper. And when I became Minister, I have hardly been in Parliament only very rarely in his office. But most importantly, the Department heads, which guards the Parliament, had issued a certificate that is not something that day – that month such person (bookkeeper – approx. OPINION) was not in Parliament. After all, to get the building permit. But the documents that prove it, the first instance together with the Prosecutor threw out the case.

When I hung Declaration, I asked the first instance to make the examination. I said that there are not my signature. They didn’t do anything. Asked to make an examination of the documents – did not, asking to call a witness not called. Everything happened very blatantly. To democracy in this country is very far away.

OPINION: Recently the European Parliament voted for the termination of your immune system. Who is there to oppose you?

V. U.: 250 members of the European Parliament did not support this decision. Supported only Democrats and conservatives, but the majority (the conservatives have 70 seats, the Christian Democrats – 221 – approx. OPINION). They have a dictatorship, nearly 300 people. But the main thing – I was not given a say before the vote. The project has brought to the Committee in the words, he was not even shown. I was not allowed to discuss the project. This was done quite secretly. Moreover, the project has not brought any of my evidence and recorded: “Uspaskich did not provide any arguments”. But the argument I have a lot of what I said.

In the days of the revelations Wikileaks has distributed secret documents, which showed three references to my name. It says that the Lithuanian government is Ambassador of America and it is reported to Washington that organizes overthrow me from the post of the party and expel me from Lithuania. All this was done in 2007, 2006 and earlier. Plus there are audio recordings, spoken by two judges. One of them is the head of the justice Department, which is now considered my case, and the other is a member of the national Parliament. And the first says that the presidency is a lot of pressure about the case Uspaskich.

Algirdas Brazauskas (the first President of Lithuania – approx. OPINION) once gave an interview in which he said he was given the command “move” Viktor Uspaskich, and it was done by influential people through the Prosecutor’s office and tax Inspectorate. Brazauskas has been Prime Minister, and President. When he was Prime Minister, I was in his Cabinet. This interview, all the documents I have. But the court throws them to the side – it is not necessary.

OPINION: Brazauskas told exactly who gave the command to move you?

V. W.: No, I just said – influential people. But it is then confirmed, because the tax collected on false Declaration, falsified the same accountant. Signed them, never showed me. Then they issued – 20 declarations that I supposedly organized. Now done the examination it turned out that there are not my signature. But it is not interesting.

OPINION: you are asked to make the examination initially, but you refused?

V. U.: I asked back when it was in the first instance, to make the examination, but they did not. When the case entered the second instance (the appeal was addressed), I was also asked to do a review – but never did it for a year. And only when I won the European elections, they realized that this is a very serious violation not to do the examination in a democratic country. After I was functioning in the immune system, sent the documents for examination, which confirmed that the signatures are not mine. But the Parliament, as it turned out, it’s not interesting.

I can document to present a lot of chances, which shows that it is political, and it created intentionally to expel me from Lithuania.

OPINION: Why are you against so diligently working on this case?

V. W.: Elementary Russian power. And how can this be in a country which is a NATO member and belongs to the European Union?

OPINION: That is the whole point of nationality?

V. W.: Of Course. Nationality and such popularity that I had. Fifteen years I stayed in the top ten most popular politicians.

OPINION: If you had not of Russian origin, I think such pressure you would not be provided?

V. W.: Of Course. It is, of course, not only that, I always expressed my point of view, which does not always agree with the system there (in Lithuania – approx. OPINION) is pushed. I have the courage to speak a clear and understandable things that you should pay attention to. So that plays a role not only nationality, but also my activity and popularity plays a role in politics.

LOOK: You were against the anti-Russian rhetoric now common in Lithuania?

V. W.: I have always advocated good relations with Russia.

OPINION: Soon to be another meeting in your case. Will you be there? You have the arguments to defend?

V. U.: the First meeting will be may 18. In may, appointed only three meetings, and 10 pieces in June. Of course, I will be there. About arguments – it doesn’t matter because there’s no one still looking. I do not believe the Lithuanian court, and he all ways proves that he did not believe me.

The case against Uspaskich

Recall that the current government of the Baltic state accused the opposition labor Party to tax evasion and double-entry bookkeeping. According to the version of Lithuanian investigators, Uspaskich when he was Minister of culture and economy (a post he held in 2004-2005) allocated funds, received from the European Union, some Lithuanian companies, and those, in turn, transferred part of the money of the labour Party that were not included in the party accounts.

In 2006, Uspaskich was charged with fraud, and in 2007, he was arrested. Soon he was released on his own recognizance. Because in the next elections to the Lithuanian Seimas he won, then again received immunity. According to the source in the Russian foreign Ministry, “Uspaskich case had numerous oddities: in particular, the modification of the decision on punishment – four years in prison instead of an administrative fine. And it’s a few days before the parliamentary elections in Lithuania.

After some time, in 2010, the Parliament stripped Uspaskich of person, but because he won the elections to the European Parliament from Lithuania, regained immunity – now on the EU level. Lithuanian law enforcement authorities transferred the case of “black accounting” into English, after which the authorities have convinced the European Parliament to remove the immunity from Uspaskich. But the new first re-election to the Sejm and later in the European Parliament helped the policy to return the immune system.

Note that in the last elections to the Sejm for the party Uspaskich voted almost 20% of Lithuanian voters that are allowed to form a third account faction in the Parliament (29 members). At last year’s European elections the labor Party gained 13% of votes and won one seat out of 11 allotted to Lithuania – which has got to Uspaskich. The next elections to the Lithuanian Parliament will take place next year. And as suggested by local politicians, the prosecution Uspaskich could destroy not only his own career but also his party.


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