Government struggles to find new security chief

  • 2007-01-10
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - "Nobody Wanted to Die" is the title of the one of the best-ever Lithuanian movies. Created in 1963 and directed by Vytautas Zalakavicius, the film depicts postwar Lithuania under Soviet occupation.

Much time has passed, and much has changed since those years, but today one could easily use the title of the movie as an apt description of the situation surrounding the ongoing search for a new chief of the State Security Department, Lithuania's highest law enforcement agency.

"Currently, nobody wants to take on this position," Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus confessed on Jan. 8. "And we will not simply accept the first volunteer," Adamkus told journalists during his visit to the Klaipeda seaport. The president has the constitutional right to nominate the head of the security department.
Arvydas Pocius, the current chief, had to step down after Parliament endorsed a report by the national defense and security committee critical of Pocius' professional performance on Dec. 19. The report claimed Pocius was unable to organize the department's work.

The security chief first hesitated to step down, but finally handed in his resignation to Adamkus on Dec. 22. Since then, almost nothing changed as Adamkus empowered Pocius to temporarily head the security service until he finds someone to replace him.
But this has turned out to be a difficult task.

"I am searching [for a candidate]. Finding one soon is crucial," Adamkus said in a meeting with journalists last month.
Yet the New Year passed with not one candidate, and Adamkus found himself under fire.
Andrius Kubilius, head of largest opposition Conservative (Homeland Union) party, accused the president of assisting "those who do not want to harm relations between corrupt politicians and business groups."
"It almost seems that the search is being deliberately delayed in order to distance the day when the truth is revealed. I have not yet heard the speaker of Parliament, the prime minister nor the president unequivocally protest the hiding of this truth," said Kubilius.

The Conservative leader specifically referred to a special report prepared by the Security Department, saying that some politicians may have acted in the interests of local groups, including one company that allegedly represents the interests of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom.

Pocius first promised to bring the report to Parliament but later changed his mind, claiming that the document is classified and may not be disclosed. The refusal had a great influence on parliament's final decision on Pocius.
Meanwhile, the media has mentioned a few potential candidates to replace the security chief: Povilas Malakauskas, head of Lithuania's Special Investigation Service, Linas Linkevicius, former defense minister and current ambassador to NATO, Ambassador to Russia Rimantas Sidlauskas, Ambassador to France Giedrius Cekuolis and Ambassador to Germany Evaldas Ignatavicius.

None have yet confirmed their readiness to replace Pocius.