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GOOD DEEDS: Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius (first from the left) and Economy Minister Dainius Kreivys (standing next to Kubilius) were present at the signing ceremony to mark IBM’s investment in the fall of 2010. IBM decided to open its research center in Lithuania. Kreivys was active in convincing world-scale high-tech companies to establish their branches in Lithuania.

VILNIUS – On March 3, Economy Minister Dainius Kreivys was questioned for one-and-a-half hours by officers of the Special Investigation Service (STT), which fights economic crimes, in their headquarters, because earlier last week he had handed his memorandum to President Dalia Grybauskaite and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius about the pressure of some mostly opposition political groups, and even attempts at bribery, trying to influence his decisions and public procurement. However, Grybauskaite repeated her opinion that Kreivys should resign due to a conflict of interest due to his former shares in several companies which were passed on to his mother when he occupied the post of economy minister.

Some controversy was caused when Kreivys signed a document confirming EU co-financing for a two school renovation project, where SKV, a company with 20 percent of shares owned by Kreivys’ mother, also takes part (this means, according to calculations by the magazine Valstybe, Kreivys’ mother can possibly make 60,000 litas’ (17,000 euros) profit from the project), although the competition for renovation was not organized by the Economy Ministry. Kreivys’ wrongdoing in this case is rather minor, if any, and this was one of the reasons why Kubilius showed no hurry to obey the president’s demands.
“Although the memorandum, according to STT, has no perspective from a criminal prosecution point of view, I think it is very perspective from the point of view of corruption prevention and politics,” Kreivys stated in an improvised briefing after being questioned by STT officers.

The memorandum states that during the last two years, representatives of two opposition parties, the Social Democrats and the Order and Justice Party, as well as the Environment Ministry, which is in the hands of the National Resurrection Party of the ruling center-right coalition, were pressuring Kreivys and Zydrunas Plytnikas, an official of the economy and EU policy department of the Economy Ministry and (later, since July of 2010) director of the Office of Public Procurement. Tempting them with bribes and promises of political help in exchange for support for certain companies is also mentioned in the memorandum. For example, Plytnikas allegedly got a proposition from a representative of the Social Democrats “to choose any new car in any car shop” in exchange for “cooperation.” The accused companies and political parties deny this information from Kreivys.

“We have no doubt that this information is a defamation trying to veil dark deeds by the economy minister,” Algirdas Butkevicius, chairman of the Social Democrat Party, said, adding that his party will appeal to law institutions to investigate Kreivys’ accusations.
Valentinas Mazuronis, head of the Order and Justice Party’s parliamentary faction, stated that Kreivys should consult his psychologist or spiritual shepherd (the opposition-friendly media constantly accents that Kreivys and Plytnikas attended meetings of the Catholic organization Opus Dei).

“Now the Conservatives [the usual term for the main ruling political party, the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats] behave like a bear which came to steal honey and was attacked by bees. That bear, going mad, destroys all hives, not paying attention if these hives belong to the coalition partners or to the opposition,” said Arunas Valinskas, the flamboyant leader of the National Resurrection Party, which is a partner in the ruling center-right coalition. Valinskas and the Liberal Centrists, which are also in the ruling coalition, stated that Kreivys’ accusations of coalition partners are unacceptable. Valinskas stated that it would be better if Kreivys would resign, and fire Plytnikas from his post before such a resignation. Kubilius, not wanting to put his government into jeopardy, hurried to respond that the people of the Valinskas-led party had discussions with the Kreivys-led ministry, not making some illegal pressure.

The Liberal Movement, one more partner in the ruling coalition, is not in favor of confrontation with Grybauskaite. “The tension would be lower if the Conservatives would propose Kreivys to resign,” Eligijus Masiulis, minister of transport and communications in the Kubilius government and leader of the Liberal Movement, said on March 4.
Last week, Parliament Speaker Irena Degutiene, a popular politician of the Kubilius-led Conservatives, repeated her support for Grybauskaite’s position regarding the resignation of Kreivys. It means that women who occupy the key posts in the country are not on Kubilius’ side, although Kubilius can expect support from his party colleague, Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene, but she prefers to be silent in this case. Non-party member of the government, Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte, keeps her official neutrality in the conflict.

Due to the Kreivys-related scandal, the Kubilius government experts are now preparing legislation for the parliament on introducing U.S.-style blind trust funds. A blind trust is a trust in which the executors, or those who have been given power of attorney, have full discretion over a person’s assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust. According to the Lithuanian government-prepared legislation project, politicians will be obliged to place their assets in blind trusts to avoid accusations of conflict of interest when they direct government/EU funds to the private sector.
According to the Lithuanian constitution, the president has no power to dismiss the government’s minister. The boss for minister is the prime minister. Kubilius regards Kreivys as a valuable member of his party and a personal friend. On March 8, Kreivys announced that he resigns from the post of economy minister.