Vilnius will have a new mayor

  • 2010-10-13
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - On Oct. 7, Vilnius Mayor Vilius Navickas held a press conference in the premises of the Vilnius municipality headquarters to speak about his proposal on the introduction of a fixed rate for taxis going from the Vilnius airport to the city center. The idea is quite sane and is implemented in Stockholm and New York, but during the press conference, journalists kept asking Navickas when he will resign due to a recent scandal.

Navickas was appointed to his position by the Vilnius municipal council in February 2009, after his Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (the HU-LCD which is usually called “the Conservatives” due to their party’s longish name), the Social Democrats, the Liberal and Center Union, the Liberal Movement, and Lithuania’s Russian Union decided to create a ruling coalition in the Vilnius municipality nominating Navickas, as a member of the biggest faction, the Conservatives, to the post of Vilnius mayor.

Last month, the scandal erupted when a recording of a conversation between Navickas and Sarunas Skucas, who at that time was Navickas’ party colleague and municipal inspector responsible for audit issues of various municipality projects, was made public on Lithuanian TV stations. The conversation was secretly recorded by Skucas. In the conversation, Navickas, using unprintable language, was pushing Skucas to make certain research looks favorable for the HU-LCD.
“You do everything so that the Homeland Union would lose the elections [the municipality elections are scheduled for next year]. The [municipality council’s] order, which is suitable for the Homeland Union, should be done in three days while the order, which is suitable for Paksists [the opposition Order and Justice Party led by Rolandas Paksas], should be done per three years,” Navickas said during that secretly recorded conversation.

After the scandal, the HU-LCD suspended the party membership of Navickas and kicked Skucas out of the party ranks, but such a decision by Lithuania’s ruling party provoked an even bigger scandal in the media and some unrest inside the party. Then the HU-LCD made a new decision, kicking Navickas out of the party ranks and suspending Skucas’ membership in the party.

During the press conference of Oct. 7, Navickas stated that politics has been a dirty business since Caesar’s times and promised to step down as soon as someone would be ready to replace him. “I’ll resign when the coalition will find a new candidate,” Navickas said.

However, the ruling coalition in Vilnius has changed since last year. The Liberal Movement left the coalition while the faction of the Liberal and Center Union split into two rival factions. Anyway, on Oct. 8, the political forces which created Vilnius’ ruling coalition back in 2009, gathered for consultations regarding a new mayor. The HU-LCD proposes its member Raimundas Alekna, who was well-known in Lithuania as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist and currently is adviser to Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. However, on Oct. 8, the coalition partners were not eager to agree quickly with his candidacy. “We’ll see if we’ll create a new coalition, or we’ll repair the existing one. Maybe not only the Conservatives can propose candidates to the post of mayor,” Romas Adomavicius, leader of the Social Democrats in the Vilnius city, said in the press conference after the consultations of Oct. 8.

However, on Oct. 13, the Conservatives, the Social Democrats, the Liberal and Center Union, and the Liberal Movement reached agreement that Alekna should be the new Vilnius mayor.