Businesses in Lithuania 'demonized', ' criminalized' - MG Baltic's ex-exec in court
Raimondas Kurlianskis, a former vice-president of MG Baltic, one of Lithuania's biggest business groups, said that businesses had been "demonized" and "artificially criminalized" as he gave testimony in a major political corruption trial on Monday.
"I do not understand the charges and, therefore, I cannot express any position as to my guilt," Kurlianskis, who is charged with influence peddling and bribery, told the court.
However, the defendant said shortly afterwards that he was convinced that he had not committed any crimes.
"I was and I am convinced that a business as a generator of taxes to the state has to interact with politicians. Lately, businesses have been consistently demonized and artificially criminalized," he said.
Kurlianskis said that he was wrongly identified in the indictment as MG Baltic's vice-president, a post he had never formally held.
"As a natural person, I could not represent the group. My only link with MG Baltic (was that I was) a member of the management board. It consisted of six members and I was one of the six," he said.
Kurlianskis said that he had acted as head of MG Baltic's media group.
Kurlianskis, the first defendant in the case to testify before the court, is charged with giving bribes to Eligijus Masiulis, a former leader of the Liberal Movement, as well as to Šarūnas Gustainis, former Liberal MP, and Vytautas Gapšys, a former leader of the Labor Party, to push through decisions favorable to the business group.
The defendants say that the investigation was biased.