Local Gazprom officials, the supporters of Arturas Paulauskas' Social Liberals, started the ball rolling. It was they who forced Paulauskas to kick Paksas out of the prime minister's post. And now, after the latest reappearance of Brazauskas, the heavyweight leftist, popularly known as "Father," Gazprom has got nothing out of Lietuvos Dujos.
The political results of the battle are as follows: Brazauskas and Eugenijus Gentvilas - up, Arturas Paulauskas and Rolandas Paksas - down, Valdas Adamkus - standing still, helpless at preventing the course of events.
Paulauskas has lost his freedom to maneuver. No longer can he blackmail his partner, now Brazauskas, with divorce. The Lithuanian electorate would not accept one more Paulauskas-initiated political separation.
Second-time short-term Prime Minister Paksas could have preserved the ruling centrist coalition, but he became envious of rising star Eugenijus Gentvilas. Paksas, playing the victim in public, is just as responsible for the collapse of the Liberal/Social Liberal coalition as Paulauskas.
Lithuania no longer believes the tears of Paksas II. Many know that his personal ambitions are more important to him than the interests of his party or his country.
Surprisingly, the crisis provoked the rise of a new leader of the right; Gentvilas showed himself to be the most tolerant, diplomatic and competent politician throughout the carnage. He can speak about Brazauskas without sparking another bout of apocalyptic schizophrenia from Vytautas Landsbergis and the Conservative Party.
After the parliamentary elections of October last year, a heavily defeated Landsbergis was whistling a different tune. He repeatedly said that Brazauskas and the "former communists" would be a far more effective government than the Adamkus-created New Policy coalition. Landsbergis felt, rightly, that the leftists' loyalty to state interests had already been proved during their period in office in 1992 to 1996.
Everything will be as Gentvilas has predicted. Brazauskas' Lithuania will not "think outside of the ballot box." It will go the same way as previous governments. All Lithuanians can rejoice in the fact that NATO and EU membership will continue full speed ahead. The leftists were the ones to push Lithuania toward these organizations during their previous reign.
Brazauskas should give his party deputy Vytenis Andriukaitis a slap and tell him to stop calling Williams International a "wild cat." Brazauskas says that business and politics shouldn't mix. That sounds nice, but it is unrealistic.
George W. Bush and Colin Powell wrote pro-U.S. oil company Williams and pro-NATO letters to Adamkus. That unilaterally means that Brazauskas and his camp have to behave themselves on the Williams issue. It wouldn't be good to give the White House an excuse to put an obstacle in the way of Lithuania's rightful entry to NATO.