Loyalty down to the last vote

  • 2004-04-08
Why has the president chosen the theme of corruption now, when he is likely to be impeached, and not earlier?

As a main theme it is not new. If we look at Rolandas Paksas' campaign, we find many statements related to this theme. For Rolandas Paksas as a politician, the fight against corruption is not a new idea. As for why he chose corruption-he's not a part of the system. He's a person who has always been on the outside of the political process.

What, then, exactly is the president's plan to fight corruption?
He will have to fight corruption on all levels-in the Seimas [Lithuania's parliament], for instance. In truth, there are many places where there is work to be done: in the security services and the Special Investigation Service. Then there's the problem of the plots of land that many members of the Seimas received under strange circumstances.

But isn't it contradictory that a president who is about to be impeached for corrupt deeds has, in his last days in office, chosen the fight against corruption as his main theme?
Speaking about the campaign to impeach Rolandas Paksas, the thing that most disturbs me is that he is personally being accused because one of his presidential decrees was deemed unconstitutional. Think about the dozens, hundreds of laws passed by the Seimas that have been found unconstitutional...
But no one speaks about impeaching Seimas members. This is the first time that the unconstitutionality of a policy decision is leading to the prosecution of the person who made the decision, and this sets a very dangerous precedent. What's more, think about the hundreds and hundreds of presidential decrees made every year, and the fact that the Constitutional Court found just one of them to be unconstitutional is leading to this situation.

Will the president be removed from office?
We have to be realistic about the situation. Before the president did this [promised Borisov the post of presidential adviser], I was 100 percent sure that the vote would not have passed. As a matter of fact, I am positive that there would have been a lot more votes in the Seimas for him than anyone would have expected. And I know this for a fact. I am in the Seimas all the time, practically every day.
But this support has now disappeared.
Yes, it has disappeared.

When even his advisers admit the Seimas will vote to remove, why hasn't the president resigned?
Look at the circumstances involved. If justice doesn't exist in the highest institutions of power that means that anyone can be impeached for anything. With his desire not to resign the president is saying, "I'm not the same as the parliament."
There's also another principle at work here. The initiators of the impeachment are trying to set an example: that if you've started the process, no matter what the facts are, you have to follow it through to the end.
Finally, if the president would have resigned simply because an impeachment process had been initiated against him, not only would he have left his post, but it would have been an admission of guilt. By staying, he is signaling that he has done no wrong. Look at the facts: the Seimas began by issuing 17 accusations, and now they're down to three.

Whose good does the president work for?
He works for the good of the Lithuanian people and the Lithuanian state.

So, by staying in office this long-throughout five months of intense political scandal-what good has he done for the Lithuanian people and the state?
The president believes that this impeachment is wrong, that Lithuania could be held captive by Parliament. By fighting this process he is trying ensure a better political future for the people.

In the last days of Rolandas Paksas' turbulent presidency, Alvydas Medalinskas became the de facto spokesman for the Presidential Palace. As Paksas' chief diplomatic adviser prior to the blanket resignation of all executive staff in November, Medalinskas was constantly at Paksas' side. Later, upon his return to the mortally wounded presidential team in February, Medalinskas urged the president to distance himself from Yuri Borisov, Paksas' controversial campaign supporter, and finally convinced Paksas to dump the Russian businessman. As parliamentarians worked late into the night of April 5 to finalize Paksas' de-throning, Medalinskas met with Steven Paulikas to explain the president's resolve to remain in his post until the bitter end.