Opposition targets PM's family business

  • 2005-10-12
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - The opposition Homeland Union (Conservatives) announced this week that it intended to initiate a parliamentary investigation into the business deals involving members of Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas' family.

Andrius Kubilius, who leads the Homeland Union, a right-wing party, told journalists on Oct.10 that the lack of transparency surrounding businesses involving the PM's family has led him and his colleagues to consider putting together an ad hoc commission.

"The prime minister keeps refusing to reveal the commercial circumstances and deals of the [Crowne Plaza] hotel, which makes us think that there are many more non-transparent deals than we could ever guess," he said.

"If the prime minister fails to find the courage to reveal all the details of the deals in the near future, we will have to initiate a special parliamentary commission," Kubilius concluded.

The Crowne Plaza hotel is led by Kristina Brazauskiene, wife of the prime minister.

The Conservatives fear that there may be a case of corruption involving Brazauskiene and Lukoil Baltija CEO Ivan Paleichik. Vaizga, a company owned by Paleichik's wife, donated several hundred thousand litas to the Social Democrats during the 2000 parliamentary elections. The company owned 38 percent of Crowne Plaza shares, which it sold later.

They suspect that support from Lukoil, Russia's largest oil company, for the Brazauskas-led Social Democratic Party may influence the prime minister's ultimate decision on the sale of Mazeikiu Nafta shares.

Lukoil is one of two companies that the government is considering to open negotiations with, although on Oct. 11 the prime minister said he was leaning toward TNK-BP.

The Conservatives suspect Brazauskas of lobbying Lukoil and have already asked the Chief Official Ethics Commission to assess whether or not the head of government should bow out of Mazeikiu Nafta privatization matters due to his wife's links with Lukoil Baltija.

However, the investigation by the Chief Official Ethics Commission is not enough for the Conservatives as, in Kubilius' words, the commission "considers only conflicts of interests, but not the transparency and fairness of deals."

The Chief Official Ethics Commission has been asked to ascertain if the prime minister's wife had received any personal benefit from the partnership with Paleichik and companies related with him. Conservatives want to know whether Lukoil Baltija had contributed to the hotel's reconstruction costs or whether it had helped pay off the loans.

Lukoil owns the largest chain of filling stations in Lithuania.