President sees Vilnius opera house chief's work as "shadow play"
Backstage operations of Gintautas Kevišas, the director of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater (LNOBT), have turned into a "shadow play" and fall short of the requirement of transparent management and responsibility of an institution's chief, says President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
"The backstage operations of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater have become a 'shadow play' with thriving suspicious deals, abuse of duties, disregard of conclusions by controlling institutions. All this is incompatible with requirements of transparent management and responsibilities of an institution's chief," Grybauskaitė said in a comment provided to BNS by her press service.
Kevišas has come under criticism from the Lithuania's Public Procurement Service and the Special Investigations Service for the 2016 situation when LNOBT signed a 390,000 euros worth of a contract for three contracts with Riverside Music Ltd., a Cyprus-registered company owned by Kevišas' son. Kevišas did not sign the contract himself, the signature was put by his deputy Naglis Stančikas. The state watchdogs see Kevišas' suspension as insufficient to avoid corruption risks. Furthermore, it turned out that Kevišas had applied for support from the Lithuanian capital's municipality for the three concerts and was granted support for one concert. The Chief Official Ethics Commission opened a probe into the fact earlier this week.
Culture Minister Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson has urged Kevišas to resign, her call has been supported by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. In an interview to the national radio LRT on Thursday, Kevišas said he saw no reasons for stepping down, accusing the culture minister of viewing her "own ambitions above those of the theater" and the "well-being of the culture."
The State Tax Inspectorate has launched a check of Kevišas' income.
Lithuanian prosecutors are currently investigating the factual circumstances of the LNOBT stage reconstruction. The probe was launched back in 2009.