VILNIUS, March 16 A member of Lithuania's
parliament is facing impeachment proceedings and an
investigation into whether his ties to Russian business and
media posed a threat to national security.
Lithuania's parliament voted on Thursday to initiate the
impeachment of Social Democrat Mindaugas Bastys after the
country's secret service refused to issue him with top security
Bastys has denied any wrongdoing.
The decision emphasised the nervousness in Lithuania about a
perceived disruptive Russian influence in the country, which was
annexed into the Soviet Union in the 1940s but regained
independence as the union broke apart in the early 1990s.
The secret service said Bastys is vulnerable to influence
due to his close personal relationships with people representing
Russian state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, Russian gas trade
monopoly Gazprom and Russian state television.
"Our conclusion is that Bastys's ties and other
circumstances give ground to doubt the trustworthiness of this
person," the head of the secret service said in a letter to the
speaker, published on parliament's website.
Bastys resigned from his post as deputy speaker following
the allegations, but said he had not broken any laws and refused
to give up his seat.
"I know that I did not commit any offences that would
violate Lithuanian laws," he was quoted as saying by the BNS
news agency. Bastys did not immediately respond to Reuters'
request for comment.
The secret service said Bastys has acted to further the
interests of his acquaintances, such as working in 2012-2013 to
arrange a meeting between a Rosatom officer and then-Prime
Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, a Social Democrat.
Rosatom is developing a nuclear power plant in Belarus next
to the Lithuanian border. The Lithuanian government strongly
objects to the plant.
(Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Toby Davis)