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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 00:46 GMT
Inquiry backs Lithuania impeachment
Rolandas Paksas
The presidential scandal may undermine Lithuania's credibility
A Lithuanian parliamentary commission has concluded that there are six legitimate grounds on which to impeach the president, Rolandas Paksas.

Parliament voted in December to start impeachment proceedings against the embattled president, after a report concluded he was a threat to national security.

A parliamentary commission set up to study the issue further concluded that all six counts against him were valid - including claims that he violated the constitution and his presidential oath.

A final vote on whether to dismiss the president is expected in April - just weeks before Lithuania joins the European Union.

Parliament voted on Thursday to accept the report, thus initiating impeachment proceedings against the president.

Bad timing

"The special commission has decided to agree to all six accusations (against Paksas)," said Julius Sabatauskas, deputy leader of the commission.

"They are supported by evidence and they are serious."

Much of the case against Mr Paksas hinges on ties with one of his backers, Russian businessman Yuri Borisov.

Official reports into the case have also brought to light other allegations of wrongdoing, including the leaking of confidential information.

The timing of the affair is seen as embarrassing for Lithuania, ahead of its 1 May accession to the EU.

Correspondents say the scandal surrounding Mr Paksas may also seriously undermine Lithuania's credibility in the fight against international crime - especially as it shares a long border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Analysts fear criminal organisations may be seeking to use the country as a springboard for extending their activities to western Europe.

Lithuanian leader snubs inquiry
05 Jan 04  |  Europe
Lithuania's president faces axe
18 Dec 03  |  Europe
Report slams Lithuania president
01 Dec 03  |  Europe
Shock result in Lithuania poll
05 Jan 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Lithuania
02 Dec 03  |  Country profiles

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