Suspected assailant to run for MEP

  • 2009-03-18
  • By Adam Mullett

QUALIFIED? Political analysts have blasted the candidate for his qualifications and moral conduct.

VILNIUS - Rokas Zilinskas, a Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) member currently being tried for a violation of public order, has signaled his intent to run for Member of European Parliament (MEP).
Zilinskas, a former television journalist who is involved in an ongoing court case for insulting and resisting police, told The Baltic Times that he shouldn't be restricted from running in any way.
"I am not proven guilty and I don't think I'm guilty. The ongoing trial doesn't strip me of any abilities to do what I want in the political field," he said.

Many commentators, however, have questioned the ethics of the move.
Political analyst and head of the news portal Virgis Valentinavicius told TBT that Zilinskas decision is a mistake.

"It's really bad that he is running for office given that he is on trial. And for being on trial for assaulting officers on duty 's I am very critical of that. The only thing that qualifies him is that he worked in TV news preparing clips on international politics. It clearly doesn't qualify him for the job but in Lithuanian politics, we have had worse people for the job, but nevertheless they are active in Lithuanian politics," he said.
Aside from being unqualified for the position, Valentinavicius said his candidacy sets a bad example for normal citizens of the country.

"It's not about the international reputation of Lithuania, but internally 's people start to think that it's okay to have problems with the law and engage in politics at the same time 's it's the worst thing to happen to Lithuanian democracy. The line between good and bad is blurred 's people don't understand what is right and what is wrong," he said.

Sergejus Muravjovas, the executive director of Transparency International Lithuania, told TBT low ethics in politics is a systemic illness in the country.
"This is not really about Rokas Zilinskas 's this is about politicians who have legal proceedings against them or are associated with unsavory things 's in principle, it is the people who decide. We should look at if our court system and our ethical systems work properly 's this raises questions," Muravjovas said.
"If you ask me about what is ethical and what is proper in Lithuanian politics, then I don't know what to say 's they [politicians] need to see what people think of them in the electorate and ask themselves what is proper," he said.

The European Information Division officer at the government of Lithuania, Giedre Balcytyte, said that attendance at the MEP elections was very low in 2005.
It could be the same this year, depending on the results of the presidential elections, which will overlap the campaign, she said.

If elected, Zilinskas said he would try to create a "closer Europe," where the European Union had more say in the affairs of member states. He would cease to be a Seimas member if elected.
Political parties in Lithuania nominate MEPs for election. They are currently compiling lists of candidates which will soon be presented to the Central Electoral Commission for approval.
There are 12 places for MEPs from Lithuania in the European Parliament.
The elections will take place on June 7.