In normal media language – the National Security Department’s (VSD) report contains two pieces of bad news: the network of foreign intelligence agencies in Lithuania is just as wide as before; the National Security Department doesn’t have the funds to chase spies. One questionable position is provided as well: public organizations have to determine themselves whether or not they are harmful to the state. There’s good news too – the report was made public. This wasn’t possible before, writes Mečys Laurinkus, the former head of the Lithuanai’s National Security Department, a former ambassador to Spain and Georgia on 16 June for Lietuvos rytas daily.
The fact that foreign countries act intensively in Lithuania is no surprise. The report doesn’t include hostile countries but, taking into consideration the rules of the ‘new Lithuanian terminology’, they are obvious. The Baltic States are the front-line of an invisible intelligence war between the East and the West. Battles take place in all areas: economics, politics, diplomacy, and information. Here, the East spare no money or human resources. Two years ago, I mentioned 3000 people involved in all kinds of intelligence activities in Lithuania. That’s no bluff or paranoia.
The energy sector, which is now the spearhead of the war, alone has dozens working for another country. Spying methods (now called exchange of information) are updated every three years, and the fight against them most definitely can’t take place from within the pathetic VSD infrastructure, which is presented in the report in the form of images. Actually, the current Government’s reforms in the energy sector have noticeably aggravated the system because previously even the slightest attempts would be put to a halt right at the beginning. The same is true for other areas: politics, diplomacy, and relations with other countries, e.g., Poland. Lithuania is a transit country for hostile intelligence agencies.
A natural question – why nobody prevents this? Just analyse the VSD’s budget graph that was made public and everything will be obvious. But despite a superficial attitude of the Governments towards intelligence, the Department has never chased after chicken thieves. Currently, it is possible to provide some actual information on counterintelligence activities. They are not that different from those of large countries. Obviously, a green light from the Government’s leaders is needed.
Not necessarily one sells himself/herself to another country for money. Lithuania has numerous ideological enemies. Who haven’t been like that all the time, by the way. We made some ourselves. Hundreds of people of various fortune, torn by internal decisions were waiting for crucial actions from the politicians after the restoration of independence. Some of them who worked at special institutions were invited to cooperate right after March 11. But as Russia’s threat dissipated, the newcomers were asked to leave and were even persecuted in the field of their private activities. Such people don’t have to be recruited. And what about the number of internal enemies resulting from incorrect political struggles?
Finally, Lithuania is no longer an object of interest of foreign intelligence agencies. The global threat of terrorist attacks remains real. Known terrorist organizations have agents in our country as well.
Since we have a mission in Afghanistan, we shouldn’t ignore this topic. But it’s completely unclear from the report whether or not the programme against terrorism that was approved ten years ago is still in motion. Numerous countries will translate this document into their native languages and most definitely won’t skip the fight against terrorism aspect. The citizens of Lithuania should also know (and not just to satisfy their curiosity) whether or not the infamous case of Eglė Kusaitė has solid grounds or is merely a story plucked out of the air and moving towards a cul-de-sac.
Unfortunately, the report contains statements that can’t be described other than misunderstandings.
The introduction of threats, arising from the activities of public organizations or supposedly corrupt media is not only incorrect but also harmful. Such information misleads the society and encourages conspiracy theories. Judging from the number of similar reports in other countries that I read ten years ago, the organizations that pose a threat to democratic processes are indicated and explanations are provided. Even the ties of such organizations’ leaders with similar ones in other countries are provided.
The VSD’s document contains broad generalizations, mentions numerous areas of activities, and photos without titles have familiar faces but why they are used as examples is not explained. This correlates with the VSD Director’s comment to the press that “there’s always a balance between the national interest and how much we can violate a person’s rights”.
What he has in mind is listening to telephone conversations and the motivation to do so. Ambiguous hints suggest that everybody who criticizes the Government deserves operational monitoring. The Government’s leaders are taking the bull by the horns: “those (members of the Seimas) who weren’t authorized to work with secret information and didn’t have such information should think carefully where the truth is and what forces are in effect to prevent our energy independence.”
Those were the words of the Seimas Chairman on the eve of vote regarding energy projects. Even though the area of energy has become a fierce battlefield of intelligence, such adjustment of the VSD’s report to the crucial vote serves as a shot to the eye for the Department as well. It simply won’t be trusted and treated as a convenient tool for political manipulation.
That’s a bad tradition. When dealing with strategic questions, the VSD information is essential but it has to be submitted two months in advance in order for the politicians to receive data from other sources as well. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen in Lithuania. In my opinion, those several comments in the report on public processes with obscure hints on the organizers of the referendum regarding the new NPP should have been avoided altogether. Politicians do this more thoroughly and specifically.
Judging from all the information provided in the report, the Department’s picture is different from that which has been portrayed for the past few years. Odd functions are gone but the financing has decreased as well. The presented budged graph is uninspiring. And workload is getting heavier as Lithuania’s geopolitical situation is becoming trickier.