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Security chief refuses to step down, despite Parliament's vote

  • 2006-12-20
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - Parliament this week voted to dismiss State Security Department director Arvydas Pocius, yet the director has refused to step down. On Dec. 19, lawmakers endorsed the report by Parliament's national defense and security committee, which launched an investigation into the Security Department after suspicions of corruption and leaked classified information surfaced earlier this fall.

Among other things, the report states that Pocius is not competent to direct the Security Department. This, however, does not automatically mean that the director will be removed from his post.
The Lithuanian Constitution rules that it is the president's responsibility to appoint and fire the security chief, although he needs Parliament's consent.

Pocius, however, has affirmed that he will not step down. In a statement distributed to journalists after Parliament's vote, Pocius described the lawmakers' decision as "revenge against the Security Department for some successful investigations."
He also stressed that he would try to find "a rational seed" in the report, which would allow for the continuation of reform within the department.

In a direct attack against Parliament, the security chief said he would ask the president to establish a special group to investigate how local business groups influence Lithuanian society and politics.
"Maybe this will help Parliament adopt laws which will ensure the transparent financing of political parties during election campaigns," Pocius said in his statement.
Yet Algimantas Matulevicius, head of Parliament's national defense and security committee, said removing Pocius should not be a problem.

"The committee did its job, and after thorough investigation presented a comprehensive report to Parliament, which supported the report, so now it is the president's turn," Matulevicius told The Baltic Times. "I believe that the head of state will make the right decision."

Andrius Kubilius, chairman of the largest opposition Conservative Party, spoke more openly on the subject.
"We are convinced that the president will respect Parliament's wishes and will initiate speedy and effective actions after consulting with Parliament," Kubilius told journalists after the vote.
"We know that our national security problems do not end with poor leadership of the Security Department, but these problems will not be solved if we do not change the director," he added.

Meanwhile, President Valdas Adamkus has kept quiet about the issue.
"The State Security Department is an institution with strategic importance to the country, and the president will not make a hasty decision," Adamkus' spokesperson, Rita Grumadaite, told The Baltic Times.
"The president will not make important decisions related to the Security Department alone. Therefore, he has planned to call a meeting of the State Defense Council to consider this delicate issue," Grumadaite said. According to reports, the council was due to meet on Dec. 21.

Members of the State Defense Council include the president, the prime minister, the defense minister, the commander of the army and speaker of Parliament. The interior and foreign ministers, the head of Lithuania's Security Department, and the chairman of Parliament's national security and defense committee may also be invited to attend the meeting.
Clearly, the battle between Parliament and the State Security Department is far from over. As of now, it is not at all clear who will come out the victor.