The corruption investigation of the century has finally reached the courts. Figures from the MG Baltic group, and , have been presented with accusations, Rimvydas Valatka writes on lrt.lt. Does this mean that the state of ambiguity, in which the Liberal Movement parliamentary party has been suspended all this time, is coming to an end?
It would still be something of an overstatement. Two years when the opposition party was left hanging cost dearly not only to itself, but also to the entire opposition and in a certain regard to the state. The Liberals' voice was supressed and even more often, they would be left with no voice at all.
However despite the STT conclude the corruption investigation and pass it to the courts quickly, two years have already done their deed and the Liberal Movement's difficulties have no end in sight.
Public relations theory speaks of a goal – when one enters a crisis, one must seek to reach the nadir as soon as possible so that you would not become uninteresting. This will remain outside the reach of the Liberal Movement for a long time yet.
This court process constantly renews and highlights the hunch on the party's back, which it will have to take into not only the presidential, municipal and European Parliament elections next year, but quite likely also the 2020 Seimas elections.
This is because in this case, the Liberal Movement is the only party interested in a rapid conclusion to the process. Meanwhile the protagonists of the case, former Liberal leader Eligijus Masiulis and former MG Baltic VP Raimondas Kurlianskis are in no rush.
They are interested in a protracted court battle, which would improve their prospects to not go to jail as soon.
That the accused's lawyers will use every punctuation mark to delay the case is evident in already the first comments after the accusations were levied. Kurlianskis' lawyer declared that the investigation was performed selectively because the prosecutors did not question prosecutor general Evaldas Pašilis, who also met with MB Baltic representatives.
Can the courts allow themselves to not question the chief prosecutor after this? Of course not. Quite likely, the process will have to be halted and the case expanded.
This is already the first salvo in the lawyer's response and it shows that the process will take a long time and may involve so many figures that it would appear we will need to open a new political graveyard.
Over the two years, as is usual in STT cases, investigation material was widely shared. The STT's goal in such cases is often not to obtain final victory in the courts, but instead the pre-emptive public court.
And it has already happened and not just in the case of former Liberal leader Masiulis. In just about every published document, there was mention of an individual. Regardless of whether they are a politician, businessman or law enforcement official – they are already guilty, regardless of the conclusion of the trial. What to speak of the Liberal Movement. Even the Conservatives no longer find this case pleasant, compared to initially.
The MG Baltic group announced on Tuesday that the accusations toward it are baseless and the process is being used in a struggle for political influence.
It would be odd if it were otherwise. One could even say it with more emphasis. Former Liberal leader Masiulis' box with 106 thousand euro unrecognisably changed the Lithuanian political map in just a few months. We would likely be correct in claiming and various surveys and political scientists' research confirms that if not for this bribe, today the Seimas majority and cabinet would be very different.
Based on the names present in leaked material, the Liberals and overall the right wing will struggle greatly to recover the positions they had prior to Masiulis' box.
The majority would prove to be complete oafs if they would not make use of this opportunity to use this court to cover up their suspect Russian fertiliser, rampant appropriation of land, trampling of the constitution and whole inglorious rule based on lies. The political corruption case of the century is no doubt best suited for it.