Recently I was on a mission to Kiev. The country is putting huge efforts to learn democracy and human rights from the European Union. Today I’m on my way back from Tajikistan, and they are expecting the same from us. We, European politicians, meet there with people looking for help to advance their human rights aspirations. We leave them a hope, but indeed we are hypocrites. Our meetings with those people, the belief they have and the hundreds of hypocritical resolutions issued by the European Parliament on human rights in third countries led me to write this article, as well as to provide evidence that the European Union is, in fact, quite far from the ideals declared.
The European Parliament may perfectly teach how to breach human rights and to hide authoritarian style or majority dictatorship under democracy slogan. The socialist and conservative parties who call themselves traditional form this majority dictatorship. Other forces have no influence on decision making with a few exceptions allowing sometimes approaching the microphone. The abuse is much greater at national level where they control prosecution and courts, which allows them using national budget as they wish. This pushes even the courts to fake their decisions, to base them on inexistent legal acts – as it is the case in Lithuania. Hypocrisy has almost no limits. I had the honour to become a direct experiencer of this.
Take Lithuania, EU Member State, where things, that happen, are incompatible with the concept of democracy. Here one may falsify cases against political opponents, a President of the Republic may give instructions to courts as to the outcomes of proceedings – who shall be convicted or who shall not. In the present, Lithuania is governed by secret notes. Judges, such as for instance Daiva Pranytė – Zalieckiene, are excused from ordering expertise of documents, from examining witnesses, from verifying signatures denied by those accused, from cross-examining people who allegedly gave or received black money, which does not deny the judicial power to base a judgment on data of those people, and finally the judges are obliged to take decisions amounting to a crime against justice, because this kind of crime ensures their career raise. After hearing the truth about them, the judges start criminal cases against those using free speech right. I even have secret data about orders by the President of the Republic to the judges.
This is a routine in Lithuania. The majority of judges here come from the Communist and Post-Soviet school: this is the order from higher bodies and it shall be executed, since this is an executable order – we have a secret notes governance in Lithuania, people are deleted without an opportunity to understand what is the real reason behind formal language.
Although I still have a hope of success in my appeal. There are absolutely no proofs, except the facts of political pressure on the justice system. What is sad is the fact that the European Parliament being the heart of the EU is little different from Lithuania. This is strange. In the circumstances of my immunity case where a political persecution against my national party is more than obvious, the European Parliament did not even try to verify the facts.
It shall be emphasised that my political party is not a private limited liability company hiding profit or taxes. It is a political not-for-profit organisation, which produces nothing, neither it trades. Its political leader is not bound by any contract with the party, neither he receives a salary or any pecuniary compensation.
For already 10 years I am under attack before the courts, and recently I was convicted for 4 years of imprisonment, despite absence of expertise demanded by the charged and refusing to call defence witnesses.
Providing unsubstantiated and falsified documents in a fraudulent manner it was sought to waive my immunity. The request was for persecution under an article providing fine only, and after the waiver the Lithuanian courts apply another article that had not been even mentioned during the parliamentary proceedings. The European Parliament tolerates this, and even fakes evidence.
Therefore, I can put it clearly from any tribune that this EU institution is hypocritical and authoritarian, without any moral right to preach about human rights before first looking at the situation within the Union.
To avoid empty talks, I’ll present some evidence grounded on solid facts. Nonetheless, I’d just precise that there is a difference between the Lithuanian State and the Lithuanian people who are mostly suffering from the same system as me. Hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians emigrate abroad not only for economic reasons (lowest wages, lowest retirement standards, highest number of suicides), but also as a protest against the current authoritarian regime.
CERTAIN ANNEXES (available on our website):
1 – Searches in the headquarters of the party were performed without allowing the acting president of the party and our lawyer to enter the building [Document] This was absolutely illegal, but the Lithuanian courts accepted the evidence.
2 – In an accountancy case of the political party, the arrest warrant for the president of the party is issued strategically on August 25, since there was a Congress of the party on August 26 [Document 1] [Document 2].
3 – During the elections to the national parliament, the home arrest measure is applied to the president of the party so that he could not meet with voters. This is particularly striking given the fact that this is an accountancy case where usually accountants are liable. [Document 1] [Document 2] [Document 3]
4 – Before taking a decision to request the waiver of my immunity, the Vilnius Regional Court made a secret hearing inviting the prosecutor only. Defence was not informed about the hearing, and the Court Order was hidden from us. This allowed to present the European Parliament fake data on the case. [Document 1] [Document 2]
5 – The waiver of immunity was requested under a minor article of the Criminal Code, but after the waiver the charges were re-qualified to harder ones. If minor charges would lead to a fine, the harder ones already suppose real imprisonment. [Document]
6 – Our party got the first place in the first round of Lithuanian legislative elections in 2012. On Friday afternoon before the elections on Sunday, the prosecution modified the charges in making them harder. The prosecution announced via all mass media that the Labour Party would be liquidated, and its leader Viktor Uspaskich imprisoned for at least 4 years, and therefore there was no sense in voting for this party. Neither the President of the Republic, nor other political parties, nor NGOs declaring human rights and democracy values condemned the strategic attack before the voting day at least in the most moderate terms. This witnesses a wide conspiracy.
7 – Lithuanian courts dismiss all motions of the charged, i.e. to order an expertise of financial documents, to call defence witnesses. Even a signatures expertise was not ordered, while an independent expertise proved that the signatures were fake.
The court of first instance executing an order from high-powered people and committing a crime against justice, although recognising that Viktor Uspaskich did not have any pecuniary profit (there is no document confirming any guilt at all), convicted me, political leader of the party, for 4 years of imprisonment. This is done in order to warn others that to be a leader of a political party without an informal authorization from the high-powered people in Lithuania and at the EU level is dangerous and forbidden.
After this judgment, all judges made a career step, and the prosecutor was named the man of the year to reward him for his actions in this case during elections. In this manner all officers of law institutions got a message that execution of orders from the high-powered people accelerates career. This is a Lithuanian reality within the EU. [Document 1] [Document 2] [Document 3] [Document 4]
There is abundance of further proofs of political persecution:
- Former President Algirdas Brazauskas of Lithuania witnessed: “An order was given to expel Viktor Uspaskich from Lithuania – high-powered people did this through prosecution, through tax authorities”. [Document]
- The Vilnius Regional Court openly writes in its Order that the purpose of home arrest during elections is to limit my “interests related to political activity”. [Document]
- President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania openly named the days and hours when he was meeting with the prosecutor general to talk about my criminal case in order to give him instructions on the management of the proceedings. [Document]
- The State attack is also confirmed by secret notes of the USA Embassy in Vilnius, which were disclosed by Wikileaks. Lithuanian Defence Minister Gediminas Kirkilas and Foreign Vice Minister Albinas Januska confirmed to US diplomats that the attack against the Labour Party was “engineered” by the Lithuanian Government. [Document]
- There is a recording of a secret conversation between the Chairman of the Criminal Cases Chamber and former Chairman of the Civil Cases Chamber of the Vilnius Regional Court where they witness that President Dalia Grybauskaite puts huge pressure on the judges in order to get a particular verdict against me and the Labour Party. [Document]
- During the 10 years of judicial proceedings, just once I was hospitalized in the night and was unable to attend the hearings. Immediately, a criminal case against my doctor was started. After this, the majority of doctors refused to treat me.
- A media research shows that journalists participate in the attack by the State. The top media sources published over 7000 articles about the case, and over 600 times the case was discussed on central TV channels at the time covering the maximum audience. No dictatorship may be proud of such propaganda as Lithuania. [Document]
These facts clearly demonstrate the political attack by the State. Lithuania is not a democratic State, neither it respects human rights or is under Rule of Law. This not only my own problem, but that of the whole population. Shall the EU ignore this?
Unfortunately, this is not the end. There were even new legislative acts adopted particularly for this case, there was an attack against business of my family, infiltration of secret agents into my party, an attack against people close to me, attempts to present me as a foreign agent – and this was engineered by the governing elite, including the President of the Republic.
When I hear what the European Parliament preaches to third countries, I want to vomit from such hypocrisy.
What does happen in Europe itself? In its heart? In the European Parliament?
As a politician hoping Lithuania to become more democratic, just after accession to the EU, I was campaigning for joining the Union, for “yes” at the referendum. The district whom I represented at the Lithuanian Parliament and where I was alone to campaign gave 97 % of participation and 98 % of vote in favour.
However I made a mistake about the European Union, and particularly about the European Parliament. The EPP and Socialist majority of the latter institution not only refuses to defend citizens and to care about human rights, but on the contrary – this majority puts efforts to hide the mentioned facts and even falsify them.
The European Parliament is governed by an absolute dictatorship and intrigues of the majority. I could understand this for the purpose of ideological or political issues, however it is unjustifiable in the field of justice and human rights. In the field of human rights, there may be no discrimination on the basis of political or religious opinion. Unfortunately, the European Parliament is very far from good standards.
Upon receipt of the mentioned facts during the consideration of the immunity issue at the European Parliament, neither its President, neither President of the respective Committee for Legal Affairs, nor rapporteurs, nor group leaders agreed to meet with me. On the contrary, rapporteurs Regnum and Rapkay hided the facts I had presented from the MEPs, and declared that I had nothing to say in defence of my case. Such concepts as justice, benefit for society or the good are outside of consciousness of those rapporteurs. They are unable to understand the social purpose of their function, the taste of making right things. What can they bring to society? Nothing.
After once listening to me, the Committee discussion was continued beyond closed doors without allowing me to participate. I did not have access to the draft decision, and therefore I was unable to comment, neither I had a possibility to present my point of view at the plenary. None of the presented facts was mentioned in the decision on waiver of immunity. In this manner the Members of the European Parliament were misled.
So how do you intend to preach to other countries, when the situation within the EU is much worse?
To my wonder, the European Parliament even does not have clear criteria to identify political persecution, and its Rules of Procedure do not provide the right to present one’s point of view. There is a systemic illness.
When I see foreign opposition leaders like Kasyanov or Yulia Timoshenko coming to Brussels, their debates, I wonder why doesn’t the EU pay attention to persecution of democratic opposition within its Member States. It is always nice to care about your own yard before starting to preach to others.
In no way I intend to insult MEPs as such – there are many of them with a true conviction, but the majority dictatorship made the European Parliament the most hypocritical EU institution. I can confirm it as a direct participant of all those proceedings. It makes little sense to fight in Lithuania, since judges enter no important judgments there, but there are other forums.
What is interesting is that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) functions in a similar manner.
When Gediminas Jakavonis from our group registered a motion for resolution on political repressions in Lithuania, it was rejected. Neither succeeded a motion for resolution on Clearer definition of the criteria of political persecution. Ms Meritxell Mateu Pi from the ALDE group was a rapporteur.
The rapporteur was informed about the abundance of elements qualified as political persecution by experts. She had access to data, and could even visit Lithuania. However the authors of the motion were not further informed on the progress of the initiative or any debates in this respect.
The only response informally received was that the rapporteur proposed not to consider this theme. The initiators were not informed on the outcome, and the very document proposing dismissal remains secret. [Document 1] [Document 2]
When I here claims that there is independent judiciary in the EU, that there is the European Court of Human rights and other bodies defending citizens, I wonder about the silence concerning the reality. For instance, the consideration of cases before the European Court of Human rights takes over 10 years. In many cases the applicant is already dead before the end of the litigation.
How shall one call this? This is an absolute dictatorship of EPP and Socialists, breaching human rights and based on hypocrisy about Europe, about its rule of law and transparency.
I also have doubts about the ALDE group. On a number of occasions we spoke about a wider discussion, about a more in-depth debates, but little was advanced.
I address all conscious politicians and human rights NGOs. I still believe in a possibility to overcome hypocrisy, and to turning from preaching third countries to paying attention to what is happening inside EU.
I would definitely call on Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and other countries to take a careful consideration of political repressions inside the European Union, to show such leaders as M. Schulz, J. Buzek, J.Pitela or S. Kamall their place within the European and foreign context. Look at yourself before preaching others.
Viktor Uspaskich, MEP