Artūras Skardžius
© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

On Friday afternoon member of Seimas Artūras Skardžius announced he is temporarily suspending his membership in the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party. He chose to do so following a journalist investigation of the 15min portal, which revealed the politician’s financial ties to businesses related to wind power.

“In respect of the party’s reputation I am temporarily suspending my membership in the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party as of June 17, 2017, until the information publically released regarding me is investigated,” A. Skardžius‘ announcement reads.

He was urged to take this step by party chairman Gintautas Paluckas. “He is prepared to prove it [his innocence] by the legal means available to him, but I believe that he can do the same after suspending his party membership because, truth be told, this casts a shadow on the party’s reputation as well,” Paluckas told LRT on Thursday.

Prime Minister and Seimas Speaker support parliamentary inquiry

On Wednesday the 15min portal released a journalistic investigation which reveals that A. Skardžius may annually be receiving tens of thousands of euro from wind power businesses.

The Skardžiai family’s land in Šilutė region contain wind power plants and the politician’s family receives 24 thousand euro annually – far more than do nearby landowners. However A. Skardžius not only did not recuse himself of deliberating on questions linked to this in Seimas, he in fact actively defended the interests of his tenants.

Furthermore the annual rent he receives is directly linked to the price of electricity sold. Seimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis said on Wednesday that he will initiate a parliamentary inquiry if the 15min information proves to be true. He stated that he will personally take initiative, if other politicians do not.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis stressed that a parliamentary investigation is necessary in order to answer all questions that have appeared: “Based on the material presented we can reach the assumption that the member of Seimas is representing the interests of a specific business group, is actively influencing legislative processes that benefit specific companies and is potentially receiving material benefit from it.”

On Thursday evening the opposition Liberals announced they had gathered sufficiently many signatures for parliamentarians for the Seimas Anti-Corruption Commission to be tasked with performing a parliamentary inquiry on A. Skardžius‘ interests.

The Lithuanian Social Democrat Party referred to the Seimas Anti-Corruption Commission. On Saturday they will deliberate on A. Skardžius’ activities in the party’s ethics commission. Member of Seimas Aušra Maldeikienė has called upon the Seimas Ethics and Procedures Commission to step in. Conservatives Arvydas Anušauskas and Agnė Bilotaitė referred to the Chief Official Ethics Commission and Special Investigation Service.

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