Justice Minister's tactics on trial

  • 2007-09-19
  • By Kimberly Kweder
VILNIUS - The Ministry of Justice has gone on the defensive amid media reports that Minister Petras Baguska may soon be dismissed.
Kauno Diena reported on Sept. 15 that members of the ruling coalition would soon meet to discuss Baguska's fate, taking into account complaints of his allegedly "draconian" leadership style that has made the working atmosphere in the ministry "unbearable."
The daily also quotes insiders who suggest that more than 40 specialists have left the ministry this year, a number that would represent almost a third of the ministry's staff.
However, the Ministry of Justice has refuted the claim, stating that the real numbers are much lower.
Ministry of Justice advisor Mantas Varaska said only 12 public servants had left, and pointed out that employees leave other ministries as well.

"We have compared our databases and found there are 18 public servants who left other ministries," Varaska said. "We have a strong argument that we aren't the only ones who are losing their public servants," he said.
He said that many of those who left the Justice Ministry did so simply because they had found higher paying jobs in the private sector, such as in law or banking.
A public servant at the Ministry of Justice receives 2,000 to 3,000 litas a month. "The salaries [private companies] are about two times higher," Varaska said.
Baguska himself denied Kauno Diena reports about the atmosphere at the ministry, calling them "baseless insinuation."
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas also jumped to Baguska's defense.
"What are his mistakes for which he might be dismissed? If there are public servants who are not satisfied with the requirements and they find other jobs, it is not a reason for questioning the confidence in the minister. The Justice Ministry has been working and submits the projects on time. I do trust in the minister," said Kirkilas.

Member of Parliament Petras Austrevicius told The Baltic Times it's possible that Baguska is being  scrutinized by representatives in the ruling coalition because of resistance to his restructuring of the ministry when he took over office 15 months ago.
Baguska is the only representative of the Civil Democracy Party in the current minority government.  Minister of Health Rimvydas Turcinskas left the political group May 2007. Seven other parliamentarians left to join the National Farmer Union Group.
If Baguska is dismissed, the Civil Democracy Party may be offered the option of choosing another candidate for the position. The post could also be given away to a member of the opposition Social Liberals, in which case the party's chairman Arturas Paulauskas could become justice minister.