Lithuanian Intelligence Denies Security Clearance to Parliament Vice-chairman
The deputy chairman of Lithuania’s parliament was denied security clearance by the country’s intelligence service for his alleged ties to Russian interest groups and at least one organized crime figure.
The State Security Department (VSD) refused to grant Mindaugas Bastys the clearance because his ties make him unfit to access top secret information.
The turmoil around Bastys began on Thursday evening, when Viktoras Pranckietis, chairman of the Lithuanian parliament, announced that he demands Bastys’ resignation due to compromising information provided by the VSD.
Bastys announced he is stepping down as the vice-chairman but he refuses to leave the parliament. Efforts to launch his impeachment have already begun.
Bastys took over the post after a new coalition came in power in the wake of the 2016 election. He was delegated by The Social-Democrat party, which came as a surprise since he was never among the most prominent party personalities.
As a deputy chairman, Bastys had to be vetted by the VSD, since top parliamentary officials must have access to data labeled as 'top secret.'
After the screening, the VSD denied the clearance and provided Pranckietis with detailed reasoning for the decision.
According to the intelligence report that got leaked to the media, Bastys had close ties to Evgeni Kostin, who is described as a representative of Rosatom - Russia’s state nuclear corporation – as well as Russian interests in Lithuania.
The VSD claims the relationship between Kostin and Bastys is "close" and Bastys allegedly performs tasks assigned by Kostin, which makes Bastys "vulnerable."
Another connection indicated by VSD is Petr Vojeiko, CEO of energy company Dujotekana, one of Lithuania’s largest energy companies, heavily involved with Russian gas deals.
VSD claims in the report that Vojeiko is a former KGB officer that maintains ties to other former members, including Vladimir Yakunin – the former head of Russian railways exposed in major corruption stories.
The intelligence report also linked Bastys to businessman Saturnas Dubininkas, suspected by the VSD to be a former top member of the Lithuanian mafia structure based in Kaunas, the second largest city in the country.
Dubininkas allegedly managed to legalize his assets and works on behalf of Russian and Belarussian interests in Lithuania.
The VSD claims that Bastys has a "personal" relationship with Dubininkas and employed his son as a personal assistant in the parliament.
Although Bastys quit his position as vice chairman, he still claims he did nothing illegal and sees no reason to vacate his seat in the parliament. The Social-democrat faction in the parliament officially supports his decision.
However, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the Homeland Union, the largest opposition party, announced on Friday that the effort to launch Bastys’ impeachment will be officially launched next week.