Lithuanian Minister of the Interior Saulius Skvernelis handed his letter of resignation to the prime minister on Friday afternoon, the ministry has informed.
Saulius Skvernelis
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

An embarrassing incident on Thursday, when a man detained by the police grabbed an automatic rifle from a police car and ran, attracted much criticism for institutions under Mr. Skvernelis's authority. The man was captured five hours later during an operation that involved 3,000 officers and a helicopter.

"The state needs stability today as never before," Mr. Skvernelis is quoted as saying in the press release from the Ministry of the Interior. "Any policies aimed at dividing the executive branch of our government is beneficial to no one but our opponents and political powers that want to undermine public interest. My top priority is the security of every person in Lithuania and the state itself. Therefore I have made the decision [to resign] for the sake of public interest and stability in our country in the face of global threats."

During a press conference on Friday morning, Mr. Skvernelis insisted that he would not resign from his post.

However, pressure subsequently came from some politicians for Skvernelis to leave his post. Parliament Speaker Loreta Graužinienė, in particular, attacked Mr. Skvernelis for failing to update her on the course of Thursday's manhunt operation.

Mr. Skvernelis responded to Ms. Graužinienė's criticism by saying that he was accoutnable to the prime minister alone and that the parliamentary speaker's phone calls on Thursday evening distracted him from focusing on the operation.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Friday that Mr. Skvernelis's comments showed poor political judgement and failure to assume "personal responsibility", although she said nothing about his suitability to continue in the post.

Saulius Skvernelis was appointed minister of the interior in November 2014, replacing Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas who resigned following corruption suspicions in the ministry. Mr. Skvernelis was delegated by the Order and Justice party.

Evelina Butkutė-Lazdauskienė, the spokeswoman of Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, said that Mr. Skvernelis's letter of resignation has not been accepted yet.

She said that the prime minister was out of town and would make a decision whether to accept the resignation within about a week. She added that Butkevičius was mostly happy with Skvernelis's performance and hoped that the minister would reconsider.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė's office said she would not comment until the prime minister made a decision.

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