Lithuanian Deputy Energy Minister Romas Švedas, one of the main figures behind projects of building a new nuclear power plant in Visaginas and a LNG terminal in Klaipeda, resigned on 6 September. Svedas did not comment on his resignation, but comments made by Osvaldas Čiukšys, former CEO of Ignalina nuclear power plant, caused a little storm in Lithuania’s political sky, reminding us that the political summer is over.
The President, Prime Minister, the Speaker of Seimas and the Minister of Energy have stated that the resignation of the Deputy Minister will not hinder successful implementation of the energy projects. “Energy projects are underway and should not be influenced by the replacement of a single person. I value people who manage to cope with any conditions and any challenges, as well as those who see things through,” President Grybauskaitė told journalists on 7 September.
Asked about statements by Čiukšys, who is currently a corporate affairs executive of the Ignalina nuclear power Plant, she said: “To be exact, Mr. Čiukšys did not start his career with work but with a raise and discussions and negotiations on a salary raise. So he is ending (his career) just as he started it.” Čiukšys claims that that one of the main reasons behind the vice minister’s resignation is his incapacity to work when decisions are made behind his back and with chaos prevailing in the power plant.
Mr. Čiukšys, a former Lithuanian ambassador to the Czech Republic, said to the media that he had a proposal to resign or otherwise be fired because of some violations committed in his previous position as CEO of Ignalina nuclear power plant. Mr. Čiukšys, whose salary was more than 20,000 litas per month, claims that he is not going to resign because he has committed no offenses.
The Special Investigation Services confirmed that it started an investigation in the dealings where Čiukšys’s name is also present. Čiukšys claims that this situation is favourable to the Russian-owned NUKEM Technologies company which is struggling to complete a nuclear waste storage facility construction near the closed Ignalina nuclear power plant. In September, it is planning to ask for an additional 100 million euro, which, according to the company, is necessary to complete the project. Čiukšys and former Vice Minister Švedas firmly opposed this request.
Coalition partners and opposition are going to ask the Minister of Energy some questions about the current situation. However, the President has again expressed her support for the Minister. Asked about her assessment of the Minister she said, “My assessment is good.”