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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 18:05 GMT
Report slams Lithuania president
President Rolandas Paksas
President Rolandas Paksas denies any wrongdoing
A Lithuanian report has criticised the office of President Rolandas Paksas over alleged "inappropriate" links that could lead to a possible impeachment.

Ties are alleged with the mafia, a businessmen accused of illegal arms deals and the Russian secret service.

The report said the president "has been and is vulnerable", and the situation was a threat to national security.

Mr Paksas denies any involvement in the scandal and, after the report, said he would not resign.

Taking into account the special status of the president, his responsibility and his role in domestic and foreign policy, this poses a threat to Lithuanian national security
Commission report
The chairman of the commission drawing the report said Mr Paksas himself had been responsible for at least one information leak.

"We have solid proof that secret information has at least once leaked from the president himself," said Aloyzas Sakalas. "If I was in the president's shoes, I would resign."

Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas echoed the call.

Calm

The report will be considered on Tuesday by parliament, which must decide whether to push for the president's impeachment or even to oust him.

The support of 36 out of 141 MPs is needed to proceed with impeachment, while 86 lawmakers would have to vote to remove Mr Paksas from office.

The 10-page document says the alleged mafia and secret service connections of his office amount to a threat to the nation.

REPORT'S MAIN CLAIMS
Russian firm allegedly tied to secret service tried to influence president's office
President's key financial backer, aided by same firm, exercised influence
Criminals and shady businessmen influenced office and tried to change key legal personnel
President tried to use unacceptable influence on business issues
President tolerated his staff wrongly interfering in other departments
Classified information leaked, including to people subject to investigation
"Taking into account the special status of the president, his responsibility and his role in domestic and foreign policy, this poses a threat to Lithuanian national security," the report said.

The investigators say they confirmed the contents of an earlier intelligence report, which alleged the ties with the mafia and Russian secret service - and said Lithuania was used as a base for the financing of international terrorism.

"The commission determined that the security report is accurate," said Mr Sakalas.

"I agree with the commission's conclusions in general, expect for one thing: There is not a threat to national security," said the prime minister in his first reaction to the report.

Over the last several weeks there have already been big demonstrations in front of the presidential palace in Vilnius calling for Mr Paksas, a former Soviet aerobatics champion, to resign. On Sunday, some 5,000 people marched through the city demanding his resignation, but he has resisted the calls.

"I'm as calm as a Belgian," Mr Paksas said, using a traditional Lithuanian phrase.

The political scandal comes as Lithuania prepares to join the European Union and Nato next year.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"The former stunt pilot will need all of his manoeuvring skills to navigate the storm ahead"



SEE ALSO:
Shock result in Lithuania poll
05 Jan 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Lithuania
16 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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