Posts filed under ‘Terrorism’

Lietuvos zinios paper views security chiefs’ role in alleged CIA prison affair

See an article from Lithuanian daily Lietuvos zinios about possible links between investigation into death of the Lithuanian State Security Colonel Vytautas Pociunas and the current investigations of alleged secret CIA prisons in Lithuania.

Article by Jurga Tvaskiene: “State in Swamp of Double Lies”, November 26
The habit to lie to the Seimas’ ad hoc commissions, which was introduced by senior state officials, has become a norm. MPs try to fight against this with proposals to introduce prison sentences for those who give false testimonies. If such measures were applied earlier, perhaps now we would know whose interests killed Colonel Vytautas Pociunas and how those who obstructed the investigation into his death are tied to the new scandal related to CIA prisons in Lithuania.

Politicians do not lie – they just do not tell the whole truth. Such a joke can be found on Lithuanian Internet portals. Yet, MPs, who form ad hoc probe commissions in the Seimas in order to find answers to questions that often are unsolvable even to law enforcement officers, are not laughing. Especially, when after testifying before the Seimas’ investigators senior officials admit they have been talking gibberish. And do not get punished.

The increasingly deeper swamp of lies is especially worrisome now, when the Seimas is conducting a probe into the possible existence of a CIA prison in Lithuania. People, who three years ago lied and practically destroyed the probe into the death of Pociunas, a colonel of the State Security Department (VSD), and into the real motives of the VSD activities, will probably be invited to testify in this probe. [passage omitted on the fact that former senior officials of Lithuania denied having any knowledge about the alleged CIA prison].

In April 2004, Rolandas Paksas, who had been president for a mere year and a half, was impeached from his post. Soon after that, Valdas Adamkus returned to this post and transferred actual control of the country to other persons. Including VSD leaders, who during Paksas’ impeachment process, together with other persons desiring influence, got used to doing whatever they liked in Lithuania.

Assistance to Russian special services representatives in developing their businesses in Lithuania, manipulations with classified reports, pandering to the interests of a small group of people, and, on the other hand, attempts to cover their moves with Western partners’ demands. These were daily activities of the VSD leadership.

In addition, one should not forget that the CIA, which after the events of 11 September 2001 declared a war on international terrorism, was spending huge amounts of money on this. Only now in the US scandals are starting that money allocated for antiterrorism activities were spend on unclear things, but the declared goal has not been achieved.

Profitable Service
In the spring of 2004, a group of persons who understand each other very well assembled at the VSD. Thanks to lies, Gintaras Bagdonas was not allowed to become VSD director (Bagdonas, who had been proposed to this post by Paksas, was not suitable for Lithuania, but was greatly evaluated by NATO leadership). After that, KGB reserve officer Arvydas Pocius became VSD director. He was met by Dainius Dabasinskas, who had been a VSD deputy director since 2001 and who had been sent there by the Foreign Ministry. Soon after, Darius Jurgelevicius was also appointed [a VSD deputy director] with the same type recommendations.

By the way, the year 2005 became the year of financial prosperity for these men. The representatives of Lithuania’s poor law enforcement sector started driving luxury cars. For example, Dabasinskas started driving a brand new US-made Chrysler. Was it a gift from CIA colleagues? That same year Dabasinskas, who until then had been renting an apartment in Turniskes, purchased it for more than a half a million litas. This information surfaced only a few years later, when it turned out the apartment had cost less than the market price at the time, and the circumstances of the sale resembled a bribe.

Dabasinskas, just as the other fate brothers, was merely reprimanded, but retained his post. [passage omitted on an overview of the parliamentary probe into the death of VSD officer Pociunas].

On 8 August, Jurgelevicius requested to be discharged from his service at the VSD due to “personal reasons,” without even waiting until VSD Director Povilas Malakauskas returned to work from his unexpected sick leave. Until that moment MPs, who conducted a probe, and civic groups, who were demanding adherence to the principles of justice in Lithuania, were unable to oust Jurgelevicius from his post. After President Dalia Grybauskaite granted his request, the official immediately went as far from Lithuania as possible – it was said he became the Georgian interior minister’s adviser. Considering the fact that Georgia is actively trying to gain greater patronage from the US and therefore may be ready to make various concessions, Jurgelevicius’ desire to work in the institution, which oversees law enforcement and security structures of that country, in the current context may raise various thoughts.

A week after Jurgelevicius’ resignation there was the second news – without commenting on the reasons for his decision, Dabasinskas, Jurgelevicius’ colleague, left his post, too. After receiving a recommendation from the VSD in a record time, he was sent by the Foreign Ministry to work at the embassy in Ukraine.

Exactly two weeks later, American TV station ABC News announced the first information about the CIA prison in Lithuania. One can have various assessments of the Lithuanian VSD inside the country, but it would hard to reject the well-developed ties with foreign partners (especially with the US partners). Thus, it is possible that Jurgelevicius and Dabasinskas, who held high posts inside the VSD, much earlier that the public received information that US media started digging and would soon reveal the information, which had been kept secret for a few years.

It was also only a matter of time before similar news from this or that VSD officer tied to the CIA activities in our country was going reach the public in Lithuania. It was said that even VSD leaders once in a while among themselves were wondering about their subordinates’ silence, which they could not understand.

One can think that VSD heads, who had gained the backing of previous Lithuanian leadership one way or another, realized that to get away this time would not be as easy as during the probe into the death of Pociunas and into the VSD activities related to his death. The countries, which are seen as Lithuania’s friends and which do not belong to the EU (with all of its strict rules), are an excellent shelter in the increasingly difficult situation.

Moreover, if Lithuania this time decides to defend the truth and law, the characters who damaged the country’s reputation probably will not avoid responsibility. [passage omitted on international law Professor Dainius Zalimas's opinion that the state and its officials would be responsible for alleged human rights violations at the CIA prison and on proposals to introduce accountability for false testimony before parliamentary committees].

Translated by the BBC Monitoring

December 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

CIA prisons in Lithuania as plausible as the adventures of James Bond

The TV station Russia Today reported on the alleged location of a CIA prison on a former Soviet military base in Rudninkai, 40 kilometres from Vilnius.  Lithuanian daily Vilniaus Diena in its editorial on 27 August voiced its suspicions regarding the report.

The news about the exceptional attention paid to the godforsaken Rudninkai by the most powerful spy agency of the most powerful country on the planet, just as the hypothesis about the CIA prison in Lithuania, surprised our country’s leaders, who may have ruled the country without even knowing what was happening here.

The surprise that was showed by the then Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and the then President Valdas Adamkus might seem somewhat fake – theoretically at least one of them (most likely the latter) must have known about the existence of such a secret site.

On the other hand, considering the trust among NATO allies, one cannot rule out the possibility that the prison was simply marked as secret object XY, and the president did not even need to know what was behind those letters. It is even more likely that the very secret information about this very secret object did not go beyond the walls of Lithuania’s special services and was available only to the persons of those services who belong to the so called statesmen clan.

However, in the race who will be the first to find the site of the CIA prison in Lithuania, another question (which has become secondary) is important: Why was this information disclosed only now?

If it is true that the CIA prison was established in our country and if it is true that it happened back in 2001, then this reveals exceptional trust in Lithuania. Since then, the situation has changed a little bit over the years. Lithuania’s relations with the US have not become warmer; there have been essential changes in Washington and Vilnius, however.

In the US, the Guantanamo prison’s political status changed. In Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, who for now demonstrates exceptional attention to Lithuania’s partners on the old continent and clearly wants to boost the front of our country’s allies inside the EU, replaced pro-American President Adamkus.

Both circumstances create quiet favourable conditions for weakening Lithuania’s pro-American positions. Who benefits from increased anti-American moods in Lithuania? This question should be addressed to those who claimed they were the first to “discover” the CIA prison branch in Vilnius region but failed to provide witnesses or strips of prison clothes that would support this version. Without evidence, the appearance of Rudninkai on the map of the world’s most important intelligence agencies seems as plausible as the adventures of the famous 007 agent – James Bond

September 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

Defendant in Medininkai massacre case to be kept in custody in Lithuania till end of October

As the BNS informes the former militiaman of Riga’s Special Purpose Police Squad (OMON) under the Soviet Union’s Interior Ministry will remain in custody in Lithuania until the end of October on suspicions of playing a part in the Medininkai checkpoint massacre.

Sigita Vainauskaite, a Vilnius Regional Court judge, made this ruling on July 27.

This ruling can be appealed to Lithuania’s Court of Appeals.

The decision to extend by three months Mikhailov’s custody term was requested by prosecutor Rolandas Stankevicius, who argued that the accused, who may have committed a felony, is well connected abroad, especially in Russia, and can be expected to try escaping justice.

The judge in Monday’s session also dismissed the former OMON hitman’s request that she resigns from the case over claims of her illegitimate actions.

Vainauskiene ruled that Mikhailov’s accusations have already been covered and answered in previous court hearings.

The defendant felt Vainauskiene shouldn’t be on the panel of judges hearing his case, because of her repeated rulings against his release regardless of protracted court proceedings, which Mikhailov’s defence argues as being overdue. He moreover argued that the judge gave an interview to a journalist working for an Internet news portal before making her ruling and thus violating rules of confidentiality.

Vainauskiene earlier ruled on April 28 to extend Mikhailov’s term of custody for three months. The court then also refused to dismiss the case on the grounds of prescription and release Mikhailov, a decision that was appealed, but also dismissed by the Court of Appeals.

This hasn’t been the first attempt to remove this judge from hearing the Medininkai case. Mikahilov in the end of June tried and failed to get Vainauskiene and Viktoras Dovidaitis removed from the panel of judges.

Charges have been brought against Mikhailov for partaking on July 31 of 1991 in the killing of Lithuanian officers on duty in the Medininkai border control post.

Mikhailov, 40-year-old citizen of Latvia, has for a long time been the only suspect in the said case to be officially charged with suspicion of having partaken in the murder of seven Lithuanian officers. Lithuanian prosecutors in early April also confirmed that official charges have been brought against Alexander Ryzhov who had been in custody in Russia.

Prosecutors say that an investigation with regard to other suspects, also former OMON members – unit chief Cheslav Mlynik and militiamen Andrey Laktyonov and Ryzhov – have been separated and are in process.

On the morning of July 31 1991, Soviet militiamen murdered border guards Antanas Musteikis, Stanislovas Orlavicius, Aras SWAT unit officers Algimantas Juozakas and Mindaugas Balavakas, road police employees Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas with shots to the head.

Police officer Ricardas Rabavicius, who experienced heavy injuries during the attack, died in the hospital Aug. 2. The sole officer who survived the attack was Tomas Sernas, who also experienced heavy injuries at the time of the attack.

Evidence accumulated during the pre-trial investigation leads prosecution to suspect Soviet Union OMON hitmen as being responsible for the crime.

Source BNS

July 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

Lithuanian intermin sees no obstacles for hosting Guantanamo prisoners

As the BNS wrote after countries of the European Union (EU) and the Schengen zone agreed on information exchange, no more obstacles remain for receiving prisoners from the US Guantanamo base, says Lithuanian Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis.

“Schengen countries agreed that under their laws and decisions they may take in detainees but the recommendation is to host inoffensive persons only. Information exchange will be necessary,” Palaitis told BNS in a telephone interview from Luxembourg after attending a meeting of EU colleagues on 4 June.

In his words, should Lithuania decide to take in one of a few Guantanamo detainees, they will have to send applications to the Migration Department.

Lithuania is holding negotiations with the United States on hosting two prisoners from Guantanamo. Reports earlier on Thursday suggested that the EU could host a total of a few dozen people. The biggest problem until now was the possibility for inmates to travel from one Schengen country to another without any obstacles BNS informs.

“The recommendation is to only host the detainees who are harmless and clear for release, an agreement was also reached to exchange information among countries before the decision on hosting in one country or another, as well as during integration, regarding movement, etc.,” said Palaitis to the BNS.

The minister stressed that political aspect of hosting Guantanamo detainees should be discussed by EU foreign ministers shortly.

Lithuania has been considering the possibility of taking in for political asylum two inmates of the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

June 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

Obama’s letter to Medvedev on a bid to swap missile defence for curbing of Iran – analysis of the Lithuanian political scientist

The United States’ proposal to give up its missile defence plans in Eastern Europe in return for Russian assistance in curbing Iran’s possible nuclear weapon ambitions gave a headache to Moscow, says Lithuanian political scientist Kestutis Girnius the BNS writes.

In his words, Eastern Europe, the initial planned deployment site of the missile defence system elements, should not worry about fewer US security guarantees.

US daily, the New York Times, said on March 3 that US President Barack Obama had sent an allegedly secret letter to his Russian colleague, Dmitry Medvedev, envisaging a possibility of swapping the missile defence system in Europe for cooperation against Iran’s ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

Girnius, a lecturer at the Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute, told BNS that the letter was not likely to be secret, adding that leaking of its content as a conscious and serious move by the United States.

“First of all, I would say that the term “secret” used by the New York Times is a bit imprecise. I believe that many diplomatic letters are secret – we do not know the content of letters of our prime minister or our president. The handing of the letter to Russia by a diplomat does not necessarily mean the secrecy of the content but, instead, underlines that Obama views the letter as very serious and worthy of attention. I would not be surprised to find out that Obama’s people intentionally leaked it in order to put pressure upon Russia,” said Girnius.

In his opinion, the BNS writes, it actually puts pressure upon Moscow to take specific steps in line with its interests to keep the Czech Republic and Poland free of the missile defence system elements – radars and interceptor missiles. Russia has warned to deploy missile systems Iskander in Kaliningrad, a small enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland – in case Washington does not give up its missile system plans in Europe. Both Lithuania and Poland are members of the EU and NATO.

“Indeed, its an attempt to tell Russia: “Look, we are building the shield because we see a threat in Iran. If you help us eliminate the threat, there will be no missile defence system and no threat to you. If you rare really worried about missile defence, do not threaten to deploy Iskander but join the efforts to put a check on Iran’s intentions of creating nuclear weapon. If you don’t take the steps, it will mean you are engaged in propaganda.” I believe it is not indulgence but statement of logical positions. They are pressuring Russia to respond properly,” Girnius told BNS.

In his words, as BNS wrote, the goal of the missile defence system is to protect Europe and the United States against possible missiles from Iran, therefore, the debates to give up the deployment plans, with Russia’s assistance against Iran, do not mean sacrificing or swapping Eastern Europe’s security interests.

“The decision not to build the shield would mean sacrificing Eastern Europe’s interests only if it was originally aimed against Russia, while America has always said this was not the case. Nevertheless, Eastern Europe may not like such wayward opinions as making them look as fools. By holding talks with the United States and agreeing, administrations of the Czech Republic and Poland sacrificed part of their political capital and electorate,” the political scientist argued.

In his opinion, the “hawks” in Eastern Europe may attempt to claim that such changes of plans of the United States undermined security guarantees, however, the main security guarantees remain, just as the US and NATO promises and commitments to protect.

BNS continues, friendlier communication between Russia and the United States, lower tensions between the East and the West without any indulgence to Moscow, in Girnius’ words, better answers the interests of Lithuania. In his opinion, the discussions to give up the missile defence system plans did not mean indulgence to Russia.

“If I were in the shoes of Eastern Europeans, I would not be concerned – absence of the shield means no additional target for Russians, and if the shield is there its operation and reliability will not be clear. (…) Giving up a very costly and not necessarily an efficient weapon is a smart thing to do. (…) I see this move of Obama as more constructive, as compared with the earlier US administration,” said Girnius.

In his words, the changed US plans would be a puzzle to Russia, which may procrastinate its reply.

“To my view, such proposal to Russia is a clearly bigger headache. I believe the shield was a perfect tool for slapping America and saying: “Look how aggressive it is, it ignores our interests and does not allow creation of a unified Europe.” (..) I’m almost certain that Russia will procrastinate (its response) and try to get more. We will see how much patience the US will show. Much will depend on the developments in Iran,” Girnius told BNS.

BNS

March 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm 3 comments

Lithuania may become host also to families of Guantanamo inmates

Should Lithuania take in detainees from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, there’s a chance their family will eventually come along, BNS reported.

As the Chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Audronius Azubalis said the families may be reunited, as regulated by international acts of law, and ones that Lithuania has adopted.

“There’s a possibility, that should those persons arrive, their families would also”, the Chairman told during the press on Feb 25.

The above-mentioned committee convened the first meeting on whether Lithuania should consider the proposal made by the US to take in a few detainees from the Guantanamo prison amid its closure BNS reports.

Azublis said “We needn’t retreat into our shell and believe that by doing so, being without allies, we will achieve higher security than with them”.

Any decisions on taking in Guantanamo inmates are still pending, said Azubalis, as institutions are currently exchanging opinions and info.

Lithuania will arrive to its decision in consideration of the common European Union (EU) stance and on the grounds of national acts of law, stressed Azubalis.

The first session of the EU Council of Justice, Interior Ministers – due on Feb 26 in Brussels – will serve for exchanging opinions on hosting Guantanamo inmates, said Lithuania’s Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis, also present in the parliamentary committee’s meeting.

Lithuania’s State Defence Council has authorized the foreign minister to negotiate this issue with the US, said Palaitis.

As BNS reminds the Lithuanian officials couldn’t provide answers to any specific question on receiving alleged terrorists in the country. Neither their status, nor their situation or any other circumstances are currently to our knowledge, said the officials.

“Each case will be considered separately”, the interior minister kept reiterating. Any decision to come about will be based, first of all, on the principles humanity, he said.

Lithuania on February 5 received a US administration request to take in two Guantanamo inmates, the foreign minister on Friday said in a press conference.

Unofficial information has it that the inmates are Uzbek.

February 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

Lithuanian Def Min: If Financing for Military Reduced Further, Lithuanian Will Be Incapable of Being NATO member

A Lithuanian weekly magazine Veidas on 23 February has published an interview with a first female Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene in Lithuania’s history.  The interview came out on the day after the first hundred days of the 14th Government.

[Veidas] Is it true that you are trying to force Povilas Malakauskas, director of the State Security Department (VSD), to resign?

[Jukneviciene] Ask Lietuvos Rytas. They seem to be better informed about my activities than I am, because I do not know anything about this; I have not spoken to anyone about this. I read about this during my visit in the US, where I had a meeting with Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

On the other hand, there are attempts to link certain persons with the efforts by the Seimas [parliament] National Security and Defence Committee to reform the overseeing of special services and to implement a control mechanism. This, however, will be done, and it does not matter who is heading the VSD – Mr Smith, Mr Doe, or Mr Malakauskas. This is the Seimas’ prerogative – to fix past mistakes and to create a mechanism for controlling special services, which can be found in all NATO countries. By the way, this control mechanism will also affect the Defence Ministry’s Second Operations Department, which is directly subordinate to me.

[Veidas] You were the first NATO defence minister to meet with the new US defence secretary – Mr Gates. Was this a coincidence or a political gesture from the US’ side?

[Jukneviciene] I do not think this was some sort of a gesture. I think this revealed the US’ view towards Lithuania, not towards a certain person. I clearly felt the US viewed its allies as being very important.

[Veidas] Did Mr Gates want to discuss a specific question related to the military cooperation between the US and Lithuania or did you just discuss general questions, for example, whether Lithuania was planning to withdraw from Afghanistan?

[Jukneviciene] We did not discuss the option of withdrawing from Afghanistan. We talked about strengthening capabilities and about the need to look for ways to solve problems in Afghanistan.

[Veidas] For a while now, there has been talk that, considering its financial capabilities, Lithuania is giving Afghanistan more than it can give.

[Jukneviciene] On the contrary, we are giving too little, compared to the amount that is foreseen for international missions. Up to 10 per cent of the defence spending should be allocated for this. Thus, there are reserves.

[Veidas] We are talking about reconstructing the province of Ghowr, which is too difficult for Lithuania.

[Jukneviciene] The Ghowr Provincial Reconstruction Team is working in two directions: The military, security direction (the Defence Ministry is responsible for this direction) and the civilian direction – fixing the province’s life. It is obvious that in the latter viewpoint Lithuania cannot compete with the big and rich NATO countries.

Politicians are still debating whether Lithuania made the right decision, when it accepted responsibility for the entire province and whether it was a calculated move. An unequivocal answer to this question does not exist. The fact that we are in Ghowr, that we can lead the mission is useful to Lithuania, because the troops gain combat experience.

On the other hand, with Mr Gates we talked about the possibility for other countries to join civilian projects implemented in the province of Ghowr. For example, the continued construction of an airport. The US promised to find money for this so that the project would not be implemented solely from Lithuanian funds.

[Veidas] Recently, there have been sharp discussions related to the use of money intended for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. For example, the Defence Ministry’s Second Department is investigating how over one million US dollars that Lithuanian had transferred “evaporated” from one bank in Afghanistan.

[Jukneviciene] We should not get those things mixed up: That $1.2 million that disappeared was not a result of misuse by Lithuanian troops. It was a problem of the Afghanistan bank. On our part, one could only detect some signs of carelessness, when the money deposit agreement was signed in 2007 with that bank, which at the time did not seem to have any problems. Afghanistan’s officials even sent us a letter stating that other countries that were part of the international force for stabilizing Afghanistan were keeping their money in that bank, too. Now it is being investigated whether the letter was forged, because later the bank started having problems with Afghanistan’s law enforcement agencies.

Today, the Lithuanian military does not have any dealings with this bank. I hope we will manage to get that money back in one form or another. From that account we will transfer money to local companies for works that have not been completed yet.

[Veidas] Why then was the military’s logistics chief replaced so quickly?

[Jukneviciene] This is another matter – concluding contracts with certain Afghani companies that were obligated to do certain works. Using surveys, companies were selected. Later, however, it turned out those companies were nontransparent, and today our auditors view them as unreliable. I signed a decree that there will be no new contracts with those companies. Because of this, Lieutenant Colonel Giedrius Vasiliauskas lost his job last summer.

The most important thing today is to make sure everything is transparent in the logistics department.

[Veidas] Was the Defence Ministry involved in the Foreign Ministry’s “democracy spreading” projects, which now are investigated by a Seimas committee and the new leadership of the Foreign Ministry?

[Jukneviciene] Well, they denied the reports about the alleged planting of an oak park in the province of Ghowr.

However, it is good that there is control, that things are reviewed. If it is necessary, our ministry will cooperate with the investigators in every way; we will present all documents, including classified documents.

[Veidas] Yet, it is apparent that recently the Defence Ministry has been buying equipment that is not the most important for the country’s defence – minesweeper ships, cargo plane, and armoured trucks.

[Jukneviciene] The previous government made those decisions. The previous Seimas also approved the military capability plans. They thought purchasing minesweepers and cargo planes was a priority.

Our government would not see purchasing minesweepers as a priority and would strengthen other forces. On the other hand, sooner or later Lithuania would have been forced to purchase the minesweepers, because Lithuania is obligated to participate in the joint Baltic Sea mine clearing fleet; those plans have been coordinated with NATO.

[Veidas] All military branches had purchase projects. The navy, however, managed to present its demands clearly and to organize a competition. Meanwhile, projects for purchasing armoured vehicles or helicopters still have not been prepared.

[Jukneviciene] I can only confirm that the issue of priorities is very important. This year, which is a “year of drought” (just as the next year will be), we cannot even dream about any additional purchases. However, it is an excellent opportunity for quiet contemplation and planning; we can set purchasing priorities for the future, when the financing for the Defence Ministry is normal again. Priority will be given to anti-airplane and anti-tank defence.

[Baciulis] The Defence Ministry was already forced to reduce its budget by 150 million litas, but it is estimated the ministry will have to save another 100 million litas.

[Jukneviciene] If the financing is reduced further, Lithuanian will be physically incapable of being a NATO member, because it will be unable to participate in joint missions. Next year, Lithuania will have to participate in NATO’ rapid reaction force. One needs a fully operational, mechanized battalion for this. If we do not have one, the rapid reaction project may stop. Today, it is very important to us, because the rapid reaction force will have to ensure defence of the NATO territory. In Krakow we will talk about this with our colleagues from other NATO countries.

[Veidas] Is it possible that after reducing defence spending we will be unable to finance the new professional military, because six months from now we will give up the draft system?

[Jukneviciene] We are witnessing the results of the hurried switching to the professional army. Additional money is needed to maintain the professional army, while the defence spending had to be reduced. This means that we will hire fewer regular soldiers than we ought to, and the disproportion between the private soldiers and the officers will increase even more

The saddest consequences will be felt by the anti-air defence battalion, which is defending the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, because we will have no one to replace the draftees. We will have to raise the issue whether it is worth defending the airspace above the Ignalina plant, especially considering the fact that since 11 September 2001 there have not been similar incidents in the world. Moreover, today we have the NATO air police mission.

[Veidas] Listening to you, one gets the impression that all the military will be doing in the near future is trying to survive.

[Jukneviciene] This is no secret. This and the next year will be the years of survival for the military. Just as for the entire Lithuania. The most important thing is to retain human resources, although there will be difficult decisions, trying to even out the disproportion between the officers and the privates and sergeants.

Source BBC Monitoring

February 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania considers to accept two Guantamano inmates

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Usackas announced that on February 4 Lithuania has received an official USA request to accept two Guantanamo prisoners.  The USA department maintains that the inmates will not cause any threat to the Lithuanian national security.

According to the Minister Lithuania will wait for those inmates to apply for a political asylum in Lithuania.  Mr Usackas would not disclose nationality of the inmates though later he assured that those inmates are not Chinese.  According to Delfi.lt the Chinese Embassy in Vilnius has asked Lithuania not to accept the Chinese inmates.  Some of the sources are saiying that they are Uzbeks.

The USA Embassy in Vilnius has issued a statement on Feb 12:
As demonstrated by President Obama’s order to close Guantanamo, resolving this issue is a high priority for this Administration.  As we have stated, we look forward to working with our international partners toward the shared objective of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  We welcome statements by Prime Minister Kubilius and Foreign Minister Usackas and are looking forward to discussing this issue with the Government of Lithuania.

The initial information about Lithuania’s resolve to accept the inmates was that Lithuania was ready to accept ten inmates.

February 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm 1 comment

Lithuania could host at most 10 Guantanamo prisoners

As the BNS informed the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry will hold talks with the administration of the United States of America on Lithuania’s potential move to take in Guantanamo detainees.

The Foreign Ministry has been instructed in a State Defence Council session to consult on this issue with the US Administration, Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas on Feb 11 told the press.  The Minister said that “The Foreign Ministry was instructed to start consultations with representatives of the US administration over technical, legal and security aspects concerning the possibility of taking in a few of the Guantanamo detainees in Lithuanian territory”.
Mr Usackas added that Lithuania could host no more than 10 detainees, who “wouldn’t pose a threat to Lithuanian security and the public order”. This move is not planned to take place in the matter of the coming few weeks, the BNS informed.

MP Karosas, the Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee said that there are two possible consequences might come out of this Lithuania’s move.  On one hand acceptance of the inmates would strengthen USA Lithuanian partnership, on the other hand the fundamentalist terrorists might notice Lithuania, hence its security would be jeopardised.   

February 11, 2009 at 10:31 pm 1 comment

America will not forget Lithuania’s determination in taking in Guantanamo inmates

Guantanamo prisoner
This blog already mentioned about Lithuania’s first attempts to fight for President Obama’s attention.  Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Usackas has mentioned that Lithuania could possible accept few Guantanamo inmates.  Then reaction from MP Kaseta followed that Vilnius has not discussed about this possibility yet.

Discussion has starter in Lithuania about possibly providing ‘hospitality’ to some of the Guantanamo inmates here.  Even the USA Ambassador to Lithuania Mr J. Cloud has entered the discussion by publishing an article in Delfi.lt on February 5 with a heading ‘America will not forget Lithuania’s determination in taking in Guantanamo inmates’.  He mostly referred to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, who starting to have his own agenda meanwhile running the Ministry.

Lithuanian Members of European Parliament, which on February 4 welcomed President’s Obama decision to close down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp and urged the European Union to be ready to take in detainees, but also are sceptical about this possibility, however all for different reasons.

Lithuania should opt against taking in Guantanamo inmates under some exclusive right, Social Democrat MEP Aloyzas Sakalas told BNS, adding that the Migration Department should keep in mind their potential affiliation with terrorists.

As the BNS writes it hasn’t been proven that they’re in no way connected to terrorist groups, Conservative MEP Vytautas Landsbegis explained his argument for maintaining a cautious position on hosting Guantanamo inmates. “My stance is one of caution. I don’t know whether Lithuania is prepared to examine those detainees. The fact that they’re not connected with the events of September 11 doesn’t at all mean they’re not connected with terrorist organizations. Their having seemed suspicious and gotten caught is already grounds for worry. I believe that Lithuania doesn’t need prisoners, whose affiliation with terrorists cannot be refuted, and there’s nothing to refute that at this point”.

February 6, 2009 at 5:34 pm 2 comments

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