VILNIUS – The pre-election atmosphere was fully charged on Thursday, with supporters of estranged Rolandas Paksas calling on voters to rip up their ballots and leading candidate Valdus Adamkus on the defensive over his role in the 1999 privatization of the Mazeikiu Nafta oil company.
Valentinas Mazuronis, chairman of the Paksas-established Liberal Democratic Party, told a news conference on Wednesday that the party was calling on all supporters to spoil voting ballots during the June 13 presidential election.
The call followed Tuesday's ruling by the Constitutional Court according to which a person removed from office for violation of oath or constitution cannot take up state office again.
The finding immediately eliminated the impeached Paksas from the upcoming presidential race.
Mazuronis urged supporters to cross all candidates from the voting paper and enter the name of Paksas.
The Central Electoral Committee reacted immediately to the call, warning the Liberal Democratic Party that such activity could carry criminal liability.
"I think the call went off the deep end, as it could be considered as hindering of the elections through fraud. These activities carry penal liability," committee chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas told the Baltic News Service. "We hope these activities will he halted, and that the committee will not have to take the matter to the prosecution."
Meanwhile, an ad hoc commission into the privatization of the Mazeikiu oil refinery found that then President Adamkus and his advisors put "political pressure" on those responsible for the sell-off.
In a press release issued Thursday, Adamkus stressed that he could not have influenced the privatization process as the sell-off was conducted by the then Conservative-led government and with support by the Conservative-dominated Parliament.
"The then president-led State Defense Council that had supported some negotiating points with Williams made all decisions by consensus," the press release stated. "The then Conservative PM Rolandas Paksas, the then Parliamentary Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and ministers present in the talks assured of the successful of the Williams talks, and that approval from the State Defense Council were necessary for the interests of the state."