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VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis' rivals in the upcoming presidential election tell him "this country is not Russia" after he described them as being "appointed successors" of President Dalia Grybauskaite.
"I would have only one comment to Mr. Skvernelis: despite regular attempts by his coalition of political groups to chop the branches of democracy, this country is still neither Russia nor Belarus, and I do believe it never will be," MP Ingrida Simonyte, the presidential candidate of the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, posted on Facebook.
"So, neither President Grybauskaite, nor even the chairman of the Committee on Culture, or companies dealing Belarusian fertilizers, do not have and will not have possibilities to appoint a successor, proxy or auxiliary. The people of Lithuania will elect their best representative," she added.
Having announced his presidential bid earlier in the day, Skvernelis called his main presidential rivals, Simonyte and Nauseda, President Dalia Grybauskaite's two "appointed successors".
"The Prime Minister's decision to run for president was completely expected for me. I also wasn't surprised by his rhetoric about party candidates and successors. Attaching the labels of alleged successors or my party links is not the best way to start an election campaign, but it was the prime minister's choice," Nauseda also posted on Facebook.
Earlier in the day, Skvernelis announced his decision to run for president in May.
"I will stand for election," the prime minister said during his meeting with residents of Rusne, southwestern Lithuania.
He also expressed his wish for "harmony among all government branches in the state" as it would help to implement the government's agenda.