Fugitive to run for parliament?

  • 2007-08-09
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

PONDERING A COMEBACK: As an MP, Uspaskich would be immune from prosecution on tax charges (Photo: Fotobankas)

VILNIUS - Lithuanian Labor Party founder Viktor Uspaskich has expressed a wish to run for a seat in the Seimas. Normally there would be nothing unusual about such a desire, but what makes Uspaskich's potential campaign sensational is the fact that he is currently in hiding in Russia while wanted in Lithuania for alleged tax irregularities.

Uspaskich will attempt to file an application to the Central Electoral Committee via fellow party members to register him as a candidate for an MP's seat in elections this fall.

Uspaskich told BNS that he gave his consent to run in the elections last week and that fellow party members have acted as couriers ferrying the necessary documents to and from his undisclosed hiding place over the Russian border.

The fugitive prospective parliamentary candidate believes he can run an effective campaign with the help of Labor Party colleagues. Should his campaign prove successful, he would acquire immunity from prosecution while serving as an MP and would thus be able to return to Lithuania to take up his seat.

As things currently stand, a Lithuanian court has issued a warrant to arrest Uspaskich in Lithuania on sight.

A by-election is due to be held in the Dzukija constituency on Oct. 7, and it is likely that this will be targeted by Uspaskich as a possible ticket across the border.

He formed the Labor Party in 2003 and quickly gained significant popular support with five MPs plus a position as economics minister. However, in May 2006 it emerged that the party was the subject of a police investigation into tax fraud. Uspaskich returned to his native Russia to attend a funeral and has not been back since.