Adamkus vetoes KGB reservist law

  • 2007-05-02
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on April 27 vetoed a law which would have broadened the nation's ban on former KGB officials holding public posts, the president's office said.

The legislation, adopted by Parliament on April 17, proposed extending the existing ban on holding public sector jobs, which previously applied only to regular ex-KGB officers, to also include former KGB reserve officers. Under the amended rules, the former reservists would have been banned from holding government and ministerial posts, and from serving in other public institutions, the army, the diplomatic service and the State Security Department.

The amendments were mainly aimed at the current head of Lithuanian State Security Arvydas Pocius and former foreign minister and current member of Parliament Antanas Valionis. Both were under investigation by a special parliamentary commission in 2005, when Lithuanian media reported that they were on the list of KGB reserve officers in the 1980s. The commission confirmed that Pocius and Valionis were on the list but said this did not pose a threat to national security.
In his statement Adamkus said that the new amendments introduce restrictions on human rights and freedoms, and "are not adequate to the goals we are trying to achieve."
He also noted that Lithuanian law does not describe the status of former KGB reserve officers the same way it does the regular officers.

"Only restrictions that are necessary in a democratic country and proportional in relation to the goals they pursue can be introduced in a law-abiding country," Adamkus said in the statement.
The president suggested that Parliament remove the restrictions for KGB reserve officers from the law, which also abolishes the restrictions on employment for former KGB officers in the private sector. The latter amendments were necessary following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that provisions of the law banning former KGB officers from employment in some private sectors violate human rights.

Parliament can still override the veto, but only if more than half of the 141 lawmakers vote it down.