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The heads of Lithuania's ministries for interior and justice and the Central Electoral Commission signed on Thursday a memorandum on cooperation in combating vote-buying during elections.

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Lithuania launches new initiative against vote-buying before elections
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

The memorandum aims to improve the legal environment, to educate the general public, to promote public intolerance toward vote-buying and to take steps to prevent abuses.

"This is not a document and project intended just for one day. We are speaking not only about the upcoming Seimas elections, but also about all elections taking place in Lithuania," Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis said.

"We have negative statistics showing that this is a very acute problem. Pre-trial investigation bodies sent six criminal cases to courts after the 2012 Seimas elections and as many as 16 after the municipal elections. On the other hand, this also shows that we are stepping up the fight against these bad practices," he said.

The Ministry of the Interior has drafted and submitted to the government amendments to the Criminal Code that would allow prosecuting a person for the fact of vote-buying. This means that prosecutors would not have to prove in court that the voter's choice of candidate was changed.

"We do pin much hope on this amendment. The bottom line is that it will be sufficient to register the fact of vote-buying," Minister of the Interior Tomas Žilinskas said.

Lithuania will hold the next general elections on Oct. 9 this year.

BNS
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