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Mindaugas Puidokas
© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

Mindaugas Puidokas, Karbauskis' ally and fellow party member, has sent a letter to the Secretary General and all the delegations of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly complaining against the recently-appointed President of the Assembly, Rasa Juknevičienė. The complaint was lodged on the grounds of Juknevičienė's alleged accusations of pro-Russian favouritism maintained by the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

This desperate act by such a 'foreign policy expert' of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union could probably get a laugh. While complaints of the kind are certainly seen as being of bad taste, this may well be the least of the problems.

The reasons behind the recent fierce accusations against Juknevičienė by the leaders of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union must be clearly identified. There is mutual rivalry between Ramūnas Karbauskis, Saulius Skvernelis and Mindaugas Puidokas, which is manifested in inconsiderate words and actions. The fact that Rasa Juknevičienė has recently criticised Karbauskis' plan not to increase defence spending next year, for this would allegedly impoverish the people, was definitely not the reason behind the accusations. There have been quite a few opposition politicians, journalists and experts who have expressed similar ideas, too. Many of us have also spoken of the potential influence the 'Russian fertilisers' might have on the current political leaders. However, never have any of us had to face such a coordinated attack by the leaders of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union as the one currently being experienced by Juknevičienė.

Now, one might wonder what has changed so that Juknevičienė has had to put up with this.

The changes are, in fact, related to her recent appointment as President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. It seems only natural that the Kremlin is really not happy that the consistent activities pursued by the Lithuanian representative have earned her the recognition of the international community. This is like waving a red cape in front of the Kremlin. It is no-brainer to realise what the Kremlin usually does when something annoys it this much. The Kremlin usually attacks such a nuisance with all the tools of propaganda, lies and accusations at its disposal in an attempt to discredit and intimidate others or, at least, unleash its fury.

This case is no exception. The only difference, though, is that the Kremlin employs actively all sorts of Karbauskis- and Puidokas-like locals to benefit its propaganda and lies. Therefore, make no mistake by underestimating the complaint by Puidokas. This is not a mere foolish or embarrassing step made by a young parliamentarian that is unacceptable to the Lithuanian tradition of parliamentary diplomacy. Rather, this is an obvious service to the Kremlin, and it should be treated as such. This is yet another step taken by the current government in its slow tectonic movement aimed at getting closer to the Kremlin, and it is exactly what the State Security Department has recently warned us about.

The only good that has come out of Puidokas' complaint is that it has exposed 'the Kremlin's friends' in Lithuania, including Karbauskis and Puidokas, in a very obvious way.

By the way, it is worthwhile recalling that until the 2016 parliamentary election, Puidokas was very active on the website ekspertai.eu, which is well known for the views it expresses. In the National Security Threat Assessment published at the beginning of 2016, the State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defence warned that pro-Russian organisations "gave major focus on disseminating pro-Russian propaganda on the Lithuanian Internet. Most of this information was published via the websites ekspertai.eu, ldiena.lt, sauksmas.lt, revoliucija.org, slfrontas.lt, sarmatas.lt, versijos.lt and laisvaslaikrastis.lt."

Americans have a good saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. This suits well the definition of the 'the Kremlin's friends' in Lithuania.