Lithuania: Additional Security Problems

lithuania_office_president_3_18_10.jpg

From the Economist:  Swingeing defence cuts have left Lithuania’s military able to do its NATO duty in Afghanistan, but not to defend the country—something that infuriates the Estonians, who still spend the NATO-mandated 2% of GDP on defence. Lithuania, like the other Baltic states, is now gaining formal contingency plans from NATO and big American land exercises are planned for later this year. But outsiders’ willingness to risk blood and treasure in the Baltic may fade if the locals show so little desire to provide their share.

 In the security service, the VSD, a huge political row is raging over the so-called “Valstybininkai”—a tightknit group of hawkish senior security officials and advisors. Their nickname is all but untranslatable into English, but could be rendered as “Men of State”. They played a key role in deposing an elected president, Rolandas Paksas, in 2004, supposedly because of ties (which he denies) with Russian intelligence and organised crime. Now they are enmeshed in a scandal over a CIA compound in a suburb of Vilnius, which may have been a secret prison…

Some of the Valstybininkai may face criminal charges relating to abuse of power; others have been exiled to postings in faraway countries…

Some scent a vendetta by Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite. Since her election last year she has seized on the issue. She also wants to improve her country’s ties with big European states such as France and Germany—and with Russia. Nobbling the VSD could be part of that, say her critics.  (photo: Office of the President of Lithuania)