MPs verdict: Pocius is incompetent

  • 2006-12-06
  • By Arturas Racas

EARLY RETIREMENT? If Adamkus decides to give Pocius (above) the boot, the government's stability could also be thrown into question.

VILNIUS - Arvydas Pocius may be forced to start a job-search now that Parliament's national security and defense committee has concluded that the head of Lithuania's State Security Department "is not able to properly head the department." The committee's conclusions were announced on Dec. 4, after a months-long investigation into the State Security Department, Lithuania's top law enforcement agency.

"We did not work in vain. The investigation showed that there are serious problems within the State Security Department 's problems which should be solved," committee chairman Algimantas Matu-levicius told The Baltic Times.
"The department director is not the only problem. There are also problems with his deputies, as well as many concerns with the organization of work in the department and relations between employees," he said.

Investigators began probing the department in September, hoping to uncover the circumstances behind security officer Vytautas Pociunas' mysterious death in Belarus on Aug. 23.
Not long before, the Security Department had relocated Pociunas to Belarus, a fact that raised considerable suspicion after his death.

The investigation expanded within weeks, and committee members began looking into the department's organization, relations between officers and classified information that had been leaked.
Yet the probe was by no means easy. Pocius refused to cooperate with committee members, ignoring their request to hand over classified information. He also refused their request to seek help from the President's Office.

Defending Pocius, President Valdas Adamkus asked the Constitutional Court to explain whether the parliamentary committee had a constitutional right to investigate all spheres of the department's work, a move that irked the committee.
The court's conclusions on the matter were announced surprisingly soon 's just days before the probe's deadline. Although the court stated that Parliament's investigative rights are indeed limited, this did not stop the committee from announcing its own conclusions.

According to Matulevicius, the probe demonstrated that the State Security Department makes a point to evade controls, he said.
"They want to operate on their own, and this is not how such a structure should function in democratic society," the committee chairman said.
He also noted recent cases of leaked information. "We have seen many reports of leaked classified information in the media, but nobody has been held responsible for this," the legislator said.

Matulevicius refused to speculate on Pocius' career future, saying that the decision to dismiss the director was not his responsibility. "It is Parliament and the president who must decide."
But according to Adakmkus' domestic policy adviser, Lauras Bielinis, the president is not yet prepared to make such a decision.
"The president is aware of the conclusions made by the parliamentary committee, but he will not make any decisions now, as the conclusions must still be approved by Parliament," Bielinis told The Baltic Times. "The president will act when he knows Parliament's opinion, and his decision will depend on this opinion."

Andrius Kubilius, chairman of the opposition Homeland Union (Conservatives), hinted that Pocius' survival may lead to a collapse of the current minority government.
Speaking at a briefing on Dec. 4, Kubilius said that if the ruling coalition votes against the commitee's conclusions his party would consider whether to support the government in the future.
"I believe that the prime minister is a wise man, that he is able to recognize the priorities of the state and act in the country's interests, not the interests of his friends," Kubilius said.

The current cabinet, headed by Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas, is Lithuania's first ever minority government with less than 60 mandates in the 141-member Parliament. The Cabinet was approved only due to support by the Homeland Union, which has 25 seats in Parliament.
Rimvydas Valtaka, a well-known columnist for the daily Lietuvos Rytas, said that if the choice comes down to governmental stability or Pocius as Security Department chief, the latter has little chance of surviving.
"If the president learns that the Social Democrats and Conservatives have found a mutually accepted new candidate to head the State Security Department, he will deliver Pocius' head on a platter to Parliament," Valatka opined in the Dec. 4 edition of the paper.

Matulevicius echoed this point. "I doubt Pocius has a future in the State Security Department," he said.