Moscow may be aiming for pro-Russian party in Lithuania – defmin

  • 2024-05-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Russia may be aiming at having an openly pro-Russian political force in Lithuania, Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas warns.

His comment came after Eduardas Vaitkus, a medical doctor, received 7.33 percent of the vote in the presidential election last Sunday when more than 104,000 people voted for him.

"I think that there may be a goal to have an openly pro-Russian political force for the first time in history," Kasciunas told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Thursday.

Vaitkus called for the resumption of top-level political contacts with Russia and Belarus. He insisted that Russia was not a threat to Lithuania and criticized Lithuania's EU and NATO membership.

According to Kasciunas, until now, politicians in Lithuania have not questioned NATO membership, the strained relations with Russia, or the development of the armed forces at a strategic level.

"And now here we have completely openly pro-Russian propaganda from this man," the minister said, adding that Moscow would benefit from having a party in Lithuania that breaks the 5 percent threshold to get into the Seimas and have a political group in the parliament.

"We need to see how the algorithm of his operation will work here, and whether someone will try to join him," Kasciunas said.

However, he noted, Lithuanian institutions may refuse to register such a party for non-compliance with legislation if they have anti-state views and are against the democratic order.

Lithuania now needs to find out what happened that more than 100,000 people who voted for such a candidate, the defense minister said.

Vaitkus said during the presidential election campaign that he would establish a new political force, but is yet to elaborate on his plans.

On Wednesday, the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defense, it would ask the State Security Department to assess the rhetoric of the presidential candidates from a national security perspective, and Kasciunas says he's in favor of such a request. 

Vaitkus came fifth out of eight candidates in the presidential election after scooping votes in Salcininkai District and Visaginas.