Lithuania: Central Electoral Commission may not be able to roll out e-voting in time for general election | The Baltic Times

Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) will draw a plan on the rollout of online voting for the Lithuanians living abroad but the panel’s chair, Laura Matjosaityte, doubts that it will be implemented in time for the upcoming general election. “We have discussed legal regulation pertaining to the legalization of online voting for those who cast their ballots abroad in cases where diplomatic representations cannot organize live voting, also for those who are in self-isolation, and we all have agreed that there is very little time for getting ready for high quality solutions,” she told BNS. The Commission on Thursday organized a discussion on possibilities to create an online voting system, as established in the legislative amendments recently passed by the Seimas, in time for the upcoming general election. Participants of the discussion included representatives of the president’s office, the office of the government, the ministry of justice and the cyber security center. According to Matjosaityte, it is difficult to tell whether it may still be possible to roll out online voting in time for the election in October.

Lithuania: Meet the Elves, Lithuania’s digital citizen army confronting Russian trolls | Kim Sengupta/The Independent

When the dark acts of the trolls became particularly harmful, the Elves felt they had no choice but to get together and fight back, and the fierce battle which then began has since been waged with no sign of ending. Industrial-scale spreading of disinformation; manipulating elections; undermining democratic institutions; orchestrating racial and sectarian strife have become potent weapons of modern hybrid warfare. Lithuania is along the frontline in this conflict between Russia and the west. The European Union’s Cyber Rapid Response Force has its headquarters in the country and the region, with the other Baltic states, is a focal point for Nato strategy. Thus, it is not surprising that it was in Lithuania that the citizens’ online army of the elves started five years ago to take on the Russian trolls. It now has an international force of thousands of volunteers. The vast majority of them are based down the length of Russia’s border from the Nordic states to Armenia. But there is also rising interest from countries in the west, including Britain, as the arena of the internet warriors continues to spread.

Lithuania: Intelligence Agencies Fear Russia Will Attempt to Sway Its Elections | Reuters

Lithuania’s intelligence agencies fear Russia will interfere in its forthcoming elections, including one in May to find a successor to the staunchly anti-Kremlin president, Dalia Grybauskaite. The Baltic state, ruled from Moscow for much of the 20th century but now a member of both the European Union and NATO, was rattled by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and hosts a German-led multinational battalion to deter any Russian invasion. It holds presidential, municipal and European Parliament elections this year and a parliamentary election in 2020. “Russian intelligence will step up its activity during the 2019-2020 election cycle,” the agencies wrote in a joint annual assessment published Tuesday. “It is possible that Russia will seek to sway the course of the elections by information and cyber means.” Moscow could “disseminate propaganda and disinformation in Lithuanian social media,” it said.

Lithuania: President says online voting wouldn’t ensure secrecy and security | The Baltic Times

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite says that online voting in the country would fail to ensure confidentiality and security. “In light of the geopolitical realities and seeing the enormous resources earmarked to cyber attacks against democratic countries, we can conclude that online voting would be short on confidentiality and security. This would possibly violate the requirement of anonymity,” Grybauskaite said in a comment to BNS via her press service. Lithuania’s government has envisaged that the information system for online voting should be worked out in the second quarter of 2018. The Justice Ministry says that Lithuanians should make their first online vote in the 2019 elections to local governments.

Lithuania: Government seeks to introduce online voting this year | The Baltic Times

Lithuania’s government will seek to legalize this year the creation of an online voting system, which should be developed by mid-2019, shows the implementation plan of the governmental program published on Thursday. All of the amendments necessary for online voting should be adopted by the end of 2019. The Justice Ministry was put in charge of drafting the laws and developing the system.

Lithuania: Russian spyware on Lithuanian government computers | Reuters

The Baltic state of Lithuania, on the frontline of growing tensions between the West and Russia, says the Kremlin is responsible for cyber attacks that have hit government computers over the last two years. The head of cyber security told Reuters three cases of Russian spyware on its government computers had been discovered since 2015, and there had been 20 attempts to infect them this year. “The spyware we found was operating for at least half a year before it was detected – similar to how it was in the USA,” Rimtautas Cerniauskas, head of the Lithuanian Cyber Security Centre said. When presented with the allegations, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters they were “laughable” and unsubstantiated. “Did it (the spyware) have ‘Made in Russia’ written on it?” quipped Peskov. “We absolutely refute this nonsense.” He said Russia itself was targeted in cyber attacks “round the clock,” but said it would be stupid to accuse foreign governments.

Lithuania: Center-right opposition claims victory in Lithuania vote, to start coalition talks | Reuters

Lithuania’s center-right opposition Peasants and Greens party declared victory after a second round of voting in a general election on Sunday and said it would start negotiations with the Homeland Union and Social Democrats over forming a coalition government. The Peasants and Greens won 54 seats in the 141-member parliament, making it the biggest party, results published by the Lithuanian election commission showed. “Our government will be transparent, responsible, professional and resolute,” Saulius Skvernelis, the man who led the party’s election campaign and is now its candidate to be the next prime minister, told Reuters. The result is likely to mean that Lithuania’s prime minister will come from a party other than the centre-left Social Democrats or the center-right Homeland Union for the first time in 15 years. “I think people got fed up,” Skvernelis said.

Lithuania: Premier’s Party Set to Lose Power After Election | Bloomberg

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius’s Social Democrats were pushed into third place in parliamentary elections as voters voiced disquiet over pay and opportunities in the tiny Baltic nation that seven years ago became a trailblazer for European Union austerity. Sunday’s national vote left the Peasants & Green Union and the Homeland Union-Christian Democrats neck and neck on 21.6 percent with almost all ballots counted. The Social Democrats had 14.4 percent, with support for the ruling coalition they lead sinking on persistent emigration, sluggish salary growth and a procurement scandal that worsened already frosty ties with President Dalia Grybauskaite. “The dominant scenario is that the Peasants and Homeland will form the basis of a new center-right coalition,” Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute for International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, said Monday by e-mail. With a second round of voting in single-mandate constituencies to come on Oct. 23, the “big intrigue” is which party will have a better bargaining position to nominate the next premier, he said.

Lithuania: Agrarian party wins 1st round of Lithuania election | Associated Press

An agrarian party won the first round of Lithuania’s parliamentary election Sunday, setting the stage for a possible change of government in the Baltic country. The Peasants and Green Party won 20 of the 70 seats up for grabs in a party-list vote, according to preliminary results after most ballots were counted. The conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats had 15 seats, followed by the governing Social Democrats with 13 seats. However, the final outcome was unclear as the other 71 seats are decided in single-seat constituencies, most of which will require a runoff vote on Oct. 23.

Lithuania: Lithuanians to vote amid scandals, economic concerns | Associated Press

Lithuania is just emerging from one of Europe’s worst recessions, has a shrinking population and one of the world’s highest suicide rates. Politicians, however, appear to be ignoring many of those issues as the Baltic nation prepares to vote Sunday in the first round of choosing a new Parliament. Political scandals and vows to raise living standards are dominating the election campaign. “This time it’s not about programs or ideas, but promises and scandals,” said analyst Lauras Bielinis from the Vilnius International Relations Institute. “People are concerned about rising prices, low wages and everyday living, so parties are competing who will promise more and who will dig up more dirt on each other.”

Lithuania: Online voting bill submitted to Lithuanian parliament | Delfi

Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice submitted a bill on Tuesday that, if passed, would allow creating a system for online voting in elections and referenda. According to BNS, the proposed legislation outlines basic principles of online voting, procedures for voters to verify or retract their votes, measures to ensure secret ballot, voter identification as well as requirements for the would-be online voting software.

Lithuania: First direct mayoral elections end in Lithuania | Xinhua

More than 30 percent out of around 2 millions Lithuanians eligible to vote cast their votes in the run-off of the first direct mayoral elections of Lithuania on Sunday. According to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), voting activity amounted to 32.2 percent until 19:00 local time (1700 GMT), in comparison with almost 40 percent in the first round of elections held two weeks ago in conjunction with municipal elections to city and town councils. Voting stations closed at 20:00. During the early voting earlier this week, 5.13 percent of voters expressed their will, according to the data from the CEC.

Lithuania: Rerun elections to be held in Trakai due to bribing | The Baltic Course

The VRK held a hearing and announced the decision on Sunday, 8 March. “Election results cannot be trusted, hence the VRK declared them invalid. We decided that a rerun election should be held on 7 June of this year. Candidates will be registered and constituency electoral committee formed anew,” the VRK Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas told the journalists. According to him, there are no plans to ask for additional funds to organise elections. “Voters helped us save a considerable amount of money by electing 19 mayors already in the first round. Therefore we are not planning yet to ask for additional funds from the state budget,” said Vaigauskas. According to the chairman, on 7 June elections to the Seimas will most probably take place in those single-member constituencies where members of parliament were elected as mayors.

Lithuania: Parliament to discuss legalizing online voting in elections | Xinhua

Lithuanian government approved an initiative on Monday under which online voting could be allowed as soon as in 2016. The proposal to allow e-voting in Lithuania has been put forward by two ministers of the Lithuanian social-democratic cabinet at a governmental meeting and given green light for the further discussions in the parliament. “We have discussed the proposal, it has been approved and forwarded for discussions in the parliament’s spring session,” Juozas Bernatonis, minister of justice, told journalists after the meeting.

Lithuania: Runoff Vote Held Amid Russia Expansion Worry | Businessweek

Lithuanians are voting in a presidential runoff election, with Dalia Grybauskaite set to retain her post after pledging to reinforce the country’s defenses as Russian expansionism rattles the Baltic region. Grybauskaite, 58, garnered more than three times as many votes as her rival, former Finance Minister Zigmantas Balcytis, in the May 11 first round. Voting ends at 8 p.m. in the capital, Vilnius, with early results due about two hours later. Turnout was 7.4 percent as of 10 a.m., in addition to 6.6 percent in early voting, according to the election commission. Grybauskaite, a former European Union budget commissioner, used the campaign to focus on her defense credentials while accusing the government, led by allies of Balcytis, of inaction. The Baltic states are seeking permanent NATO bases to counter what they say is Russia’s military buildup in the region. The alliance has added air patrols and land troops in the region after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, which also holds a presidential election today.

Lithuania: President Faces New Election Runoff | Wall Street Journal

Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite faces a second runoff after falling shy of the 50% of votes needed to clinch a second term in Sunday’s presidential election, which was dominated by concerns about neighboring Russia and the Baltic nation’s exposure to the Ukraine crisis. With 100% of votes counted, Ms. Grybauskaite, currently in her first five-year term as president, had collected 46.6%. Her closest rival, a Social Democrat member of the European Parliament named Zigmantas Balcytis, had 13.8%, according to results released by Lithuania’s election commission Monday. The two will face off in a second round of elections on May 25 alongside European Parliament elections. Ms. Grybauskaite, a staunch independent and former EU commissioner known as a hard-nosed critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been vocal in her opinion that Ukraine should forge deeper alliances with the West. Her anti-Putin rhetoric boosted her popularity in the latest elections, according to polls published by Lithuanian media.

Lithuania: Grybauskaite leads pack in Lithuania presidential election | Deutsche Welle

Incumbent President Dalia Grybauskaite emerged as the candidate with the largest share of the vote in Lithuania’s presidential elections on Sunday. However, it appeared unlikely she would win an overall majority, having garnered about 45 percent of votes. Results with 97.7 percent of votes counted on Monday showed Grybauskaite scored 45.8 percent, while her nearest rival, Social Democrat MEP Zigmantas Balcytis, took 13.7 percent. Should the figures stand, the two would face each other in a runoff poll to be held on May 25. In order to secure victory in the first round of voting, Grybauskaite or one of her rivals would have to win at least 50 percent of the votes – but this would also require an overall turnout of 50 percent. Voter turnout of less than half would therefore prompt the run-off election, coinciding with European Parliament polls.

Lithuania: President Cites Russia Threat in Election Race | Bloomberg

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite used the last debate before for the May 11 election to focus on Russia’s expansionism, which is fueling concern in the Baltic countries. Grybauskaite said she used “fierce” rhetoric to persuade NATO partners to boost the alliance’s military presence in the region that regained independence as the Soviet Union collapsed more than two decades ago. Conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden helped add warplanes for air patrols and surveillance and about 150 U.S. paratroopers for exercises in Lithuania, she said. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is upgrading contingency plans, holding military drills in eastern Europe and stepping up air and naval policing on its flanks as President Vladimir Putin masses troops on Ukraine’s border. The newest members that joined in the past decade are pushing for permanent NATO bases in the region.

Lithuania: Hackers on prowl for larger prey, possibly Lithuania’s EU Presidency? | Baltic Times

How does one get revenge on a trendy Web site that ferreted out and made public a bit of foul play, namely, rigged voting from Lithuania, which gave the charming Russian crooner at the Eurovision 2013 song contest a few extra votes? This is what happened to, the trendiest Lithuanian Web site, after it broke the vote-rigging scandal. The site had already dealt with a hacker e-ambush a few years ago, when, having announced the news about two Russian bombers at the Latvian border, e-intruders in revenge hacked the portal and put atop the news desk a piece on… a bunny, the main hero of the popular Soviet-era cartoon ‘Na, Palauk’ (Just watch Out!), that has been busted for drug use. This is not an April Fool’s Day prank. In fact, the whole thing is a lot more serious than that: it is a problem of malignant hackers, possibly from the East, and certainly grudge-filled. Ahead of the scandalous story on the rigged Eurovision votes, Delfi editors had received an e-mail in Russian promising “radical actions” if the story reached daylight.

Lithuania: Lithuania election: Austerity key in second-round vote | BBC

Lithuanians are voting in the second round of national elections, with budget cuts and joining the euro seen as key issues. Polls opened at 07:00 (05:00 GMT), with half the seats being contested. Two centre left parties, the Labour Party and the Social Democrats, finished first and second in the first round on 14 October. PM Andrius Kubilius’ governing conservatives, unpopular for cutting pensions and public wages, came third. Having won 34 seats in the first round, Labour and the Social Democrats hope to win enough of the 67 seats available on Sunday to allow them to form a coalition government.

Lithuania: Labor Party Pledges Action Amid Voting Allegations | Businessweek

Lithuania’s Labor Party said it would expel any members found guilty of violating the election law amid allegations that some bribed voters during an Oct. 14 round of parliamentary elections that the party won. Police are looking at a video claiming to show prison inmates being offered money in return for voting for the Labor Party, the Prosecutor General’s Office in Vilnius, the capital, said on its website yesterday. The party called for a swift investigation of the allegations. “Media reports that some members of the Labor Party may have bribed voters are casting a shadow on our authority,” the party said on its website today. “If the mentioned facts are confirmed, the chairman of the Labor Party intends personally to propose the expulsion of any members who have broken the law.”

Lithuania: Voters back opposition populists, SocDems, reject nuclear plant plans | The Washington Post

Lithuanians exasperated with economic hardship handed a stunning victory to a populist party led by a disgraced Russia-born millionaire, nearly complete results of Sunday’s election show, while voicing resounding disapproval of plans to build a costly new nuclear power plant. The opposition Labor Party, led by Viktor Uspaskich, once dubbed as the “pickle king” for having made his fortune selling jarred pickles, was leading with 23.4 percent of the vote after nearly three-fourths of precincts was counted.The victory set the stage for a coalition with the Social Democrats, who were second with 19.4 percent, and Order and Justice, a populist party led by Rolandas Paksas, a stunt pilot who eventually became president in 2003 — only to be impeached the following year for violating the Constitution and abuse of office. Paksas’ party was fourth with 9.2 percent.

Lithuania: Lithuania to reject austerity, quick euro entry in vote | Kyiv Post

Austerity-weary Lithuanians are set to eject the country’s ruling centre-right coalition in an election this month, a move likely to delay the moment the small European Union member state joins the euro and to ease ties with Russia. However, the new government, which opinion polls show is likely to be a broad coalition led by the centre-left Social Democrats, is expected to largely stick to austerity as the Baltic state cannot afford to be frozen out of debt markets. “The situation is unbearable, half of Lithuania has emigrated,” said Svetlana Orlovskaya, 65, as she headed to work as a factory cleaner in a suburb of the capital city Vilnius. She said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, head of a four-party coalition since 2008, had not done “anything good”.

Lithuania: Lithuanians poised to vote out conservatives | European Voice

For the first time since regaining independence in 1991, Lithuanians have the opportunity to re-elect the same government formed at elections four years earlier. Yet they are almost certain to reject this chance of political continuity.  Frustrated with dismal living standards and a poignant sense of dysfunctional social justice, voters in the Baltic nation are poised to send packing the conservative-led coalition and return opposition centre-leftists and populists to the helm. Such a scenario could, in turn, postpone tentative plans to introduce the euro and affect preparations for Lithuania’s presidency of the European Union’s Council of Ministers in the second half of 2013. Polls indicate that either the Social Democrats, who reigned over Lithuanian politics for more than six years before getting the boot in 2008.

Lithuania: Consultative vote to be held on nuclear plant | Reuters

Lithuania will hold a non-binding referendum on the centre-right government’s planned new nuclear power plant on the same day as a parliamentary election, in a move that could boost support for the opposition and derail the project with a big vote against. Parliament’s decision on Monday to hold the vote puts energy issues at the centre of the election, with the opposition and government split on how to reduce country’s energy dependence on its former Soviet master, Russia. Polls have showed public support for nuclear energy in Lithuania wane following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 in Japan, with opinion now roughly divided.