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.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Lithuania.
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.
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.
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 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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.