Issue No.147 - November 1, 1999
1. Armenia: IT WAS TO HAPPEN
By Mike Danielyan
2. Russia/Checnya: THE WAR AGAINST A NATION
By Zoya Oryakhova
Addition : HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN CHECHEN REPUBLIC
3. Bosnia and Hercegovina : NEW ELECTION LAW
By Radenko Udovicic
4. Lithuania: WRIGGLING FREE FROM RUSSIAN INFLUENCE
By Howard Jarvis
Armenia: It Was To Happen
By Mike Danielyan
In the hours that followed the tragic events in the Armenian Parliament on the last Wednesday ( October 27) the media and the politicians could only ask, "How can such a thing happen?" and many then add "...in a country that walks forward democracy?"
And how could the events on September 26, 1996 happen when the nation elected one president but the force structures nominated another one. Then minister of Defense Vazgen Sargsyan declared: "If the opposition received 100 percent of the vote we wouldn't hand over power." And how could out-of-turn presidential elections happen, when violating the Constitution of RA, non-citizen of Armenia was nominated president? How could the Prosecutor General be shot in his own office? How could the deputy ministers of defense and internal affairs have been murdered? The chain is long and the list can be continued. On October 27 five gunmen stormed the Armenian National Assembly and realized bloody massacre.
Question 1: - How could the gunmen get into the parliament building, then into the chamber itself, while carrying automatic weapons? Of the gunmen only the leader Nairi Hunanian, as a former journalist with the State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company had an accreditation card, the others did not have. Consequently, press center of National Assembly wouldn't let them in. Thus, one of the deputies or staff members at the Assembly would have had to sign their passes. The hall is guarded by security guards that will not allow anyone in except deputies, staff members and accredited journalists. As I know, a press pass to the building is not enough - a separate pass is needed to get into the chamber. The Assembly officials know me as a journalist but still would not have let me enter the chamber with my building pass. The gunmen had no trouble getting in the chamber, otherwise they would have been stopped, i.e. no security was before the entrance of the chamber and nobody stopped them to get in.
Questions 2 and 3, the most important one - was it a coup attempt, or simply the work of a gang of mentally unbalanced warriors. Was the Armenian government truly the tightly unit team on all issues, including the vexed matter of Nagorno-Karabakh? I've known Nairi Unanian since 1988 and last crossed his path, unintentionally, this summer in Yerevan. He hasn't changed much as a person over those ten years; he was then and is now a supporter of radical action. Listening to him talk over a mobile phone during the standoff I thought he sounded calm and completely in control. His only concern was to provide the rear. and that' why his only claim was to talk to president Robert Kocharian. It was Sarkisian's pressure that forced then president Levon Ter-Petrosian to resign and make way for Kocharian, the next illegitimate president, who was not even an Armenian citizen. In Armenia 'Karabakh Clan' came to power. But everybody knows that power is wielded by the pressure of the most powerful person Vazgen Sargsyan.
Both the president Kocharian, his force support National Security Minister Karabakher Serj Sargsian (no relation to the dead premier) and president's political support Armenian Revolutionary Party Dashnaktsutyun knew it. The unit team was collapsed after the extraordinary presidential elections. Especially after the May presidential elections only the deaf and blind would fail to see the disagreements between the different players. And here Sargsian who played the knight in the run up to the parliamentary polls created the Miasnutun (Unity) bloc. It united the diametrically opposite political forces of his own militaristic Republican party and the former communists of the Popular Party led by Karen Demirchian - former first secretary of Armenia's Communist party in Soviet days and another victim of Wednesday's bloodbath. The bloc won in the parlimentary elections and had the vast majority of votes in the National Assembly. Their first act was to split the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of National Security into two separate entities, thereby undermining the Karabakh Clan's influence. Later on, also by the pressure of V. Sargsyan minister of Defense in Nagorni Karabakh S. Babayan was dismissed. Karabakh phenomenon V. Sargsyan though: "I gave you life and I can take it away". For all Vazgen Sargsyan was a Karabakh hero. Just on Karabakh matter he built much political capital and not only capital. But now he is not a minister of Defense but a prime minister. He held meetings with IMF delegations and US vice-president Albert Gore, who promised him vast amounts of "money" and "help" (name it as you want) if the Karabakh problem is settled. The man once seen as a pro-Russian defence minister changed into a pro-Western prime minster. ''Karabakh clan'' and nationalistic forces, particularly Dashnaktsutyun, which is the only political support with pro-Russian orientation didn't like this change.
The word was that the prime minister was about to force the resignation of Karabakher state security minister Serj Sarkisian. Somebody had to do the first step. Young radicals are easily found in Armenia, and Unanian was just one of many combat veterans from the bloody Nagorno-Karabakh war - where he fought in a Dashnaktsutyun armed brigade. Question 4- How did the international community react? Some read the incident as a coup attempts. The president of Georgia, Russia, USA, Turkey, France, Greece expressed their anxiety and readiness to support Kocharian as the only "legitimate" authority. US president Bill Clinton, taking a lead, condemned brutality directed against personalities who fight for democracy in their countries. Yet both US governmental and non-governmental organizations have many times since 1995 pointed out violations of democratic principles in Armenia, many times attributing them to the late prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan. Politics is a very dirty game. The prime minister of Russia V. Putin on the sample of this teract in Armenia, justified his actions in Chechnia. Moreover, when he and his fellow gunmen finally surrendered at the parliament on Thursday they went to the ministry of internal security, reportedly they did not even hand over their pistols until they reached the investigation centre. Hostages were with them in the bus while going to the isolation cell. The last question - What awaits Armenia? With the demise of Sarkisian and Demirchian, Kocharian and the Karabakhers are no longer under the same threat they were before. If there were any political forces standing at the back of terrorists, the ''brilliantly-clear'' law enforcement officials would prove and ''convince'' us that no coup took place. And if the claim of the murdered V. Sargsyan allies and first of all the minister of Defense won't be accepted by the president the very worst scenario - civil war - cannot be ruled out. Whatever the outcome, democrats will not be the winners, for there are no democrats around.
Addition : CHRONOLOGY On October 27 at about 17.05 5 persons intruded to the hall of National Assembly, where at that time the regular session was held and cried out: ''For 5 years you are drinking the blood of the nation. That's enough! Lie down all of you, this is coup d'etat'' and shot the prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan, who sat on the first row (the first two rows in the National Assembly are meant for the cabinet of ministers), after which irregular fire was began directed to the deputies.
As an outcome of this fire the prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan, speaker of the National Assembly Karen Demirchyan, vice-speakers Juri Bakhshyan and Ruben Miroyan, the minister of current issues Leonard Petrossyan, deputies Mikael Kotanyan, Armenak Armenkanyan, Henri Abrahamyan died. 6 deputies were wounded who were transferred to the ambulance hospital. Nearly 50 deputies and ministers were kept hostages. Among the gunmen only one person is widely known Nairi Hunanyan, a journalist, member of Armenian Revolution Party Dashnaktutun (as it is stated by the leaders of the party N. Hunanyan was dismissed from the party in 1994).
From 1994 up to 1997 he lived in the Crimea and worked in the Armenian Diaspora of Crimea ruled by the present prime minister of Nagorni Karabakh Anushavan Danielyan. Hunanyan offered the journalists, who were present at the hall, to leave the building and to call the nation to gather in front of the National Assembly. His brother Karen Hunanyan and his uncle Vram Galstyan were also in the group of terrorists. To the question of the journalists what N. Hunanyan meant by saying 5 years, he answered: ''For 5 years the nation can't elect the one, whom the nation itself wants to elect. And now, when the main obstacles are destroyed, the nation can make his choice. We claim the presence of the president Kocharian''.
Before letting the cameramen leave the hall, the terrorists took their video materials. The terrorists demanded a live broadcast on the first national canal of Republic of Armenia and a helicopter. The mobile phones of all the deputies, except the representative of Dashnaktutun Agvan Vardanyan were taken from. And many journalists managed to contact both with Agvan Vardanyan and N. Hunanyan. While speaking N. Hunanyan was very quiet and calm. And just at that time he announced that they needn't any helicopter. At 05.00 they were provided with the chance to broadcast their statement: ''...We didn't come here to shed blood, we just wanted to frighten the deputies by the shots to the air and made them think over. But either security of National Assembly or the bodyguards first shot on us and this has outcome so many victims. We are not terrorists...Everything is done is done for the sake of the nation. We are ready to stand before the justice, but all of them who for the recent years were robbing the nation should stand before the justice with us. ....If it continues in such way we again will loose our state-independence''.
Only at 18.00 the special detachment came to the National Assembly, which entered the building and later on the building was surrounded by the detachments of policemen for special assignments. The prime minister and his cabinet of ministers were present at the National Assembly because session ''Questions to the government'' was held on that day. The following facts are very interesting. The minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanyan and minister of National Security Serg Sargsyan weren't present at the session. The minister of Internal Affairs Suren Abrahamyan was sitting on the last rows beside the deputies and the minister of Culture, Sport and Youth, the member of Armenian Revolutionary Party Dashnaktutun Roland Sharoyan was sitting beside the journalists on the gallery.
The president of RA Robert Kocharian came to the parliament for ''negotiations with terrorists'' in an hour and a half, after the end of his regular meeting. The residence of the president wasn't far from the building of the National Assembly, but anyway at that time the residence of the president wasn't guarded. Up to now it isn't clearly known the president negotiated with them or not, information on this is very various. It is known from reliable sources that the chief of the machinery of the president Aleksan Harutjunyan negotiated with the gunmen, who studied with Nairi Hunanyan in the University and together with him led the student movement in 1988 at the beginning of Karabakh movement. Later on by the night the collaborators of special detachments and military police guarding the building of National Assembly prohibited to take photos and video materials.
The cameras of Zaven Khachikyan and Ruben Mangasaryan were taken from.
The journalist of TV canal ''A1+'' Mher Arshakyan was warned: ''If you
one more dare broadcast on alive through mobile, you will forget how to
speak forever.'' By the morning A. Harutjunyan (or the president) made
arrangement with terrorists. They handed the guns and accompanied with
Andranik Margaryan and vice-minister of the Internal Affairs Grigor Grigoryan
were transferred to the preliminary isolation cell of Ministry of National
Security. The hostages were released. As it was found out the deputy Andranik
Manukyan is in the reanimation of one of the hospitals of Yerevan. He is
in a very heavy state. On October 28 the high rank officers of the ministry
of Defense of RA made a statement addressed to the president of RA claiming
that after such incident in the National Assembly the General Prosecutor
of RA Agvan Hovsepyan, minister of Internal Affairs Suren Abrahamyan and
minister of National Security S. Sargsyan should resign.
Russia/Chechnya: THE WAR AGAINST A NATION
By Zoya Oryakhova
These days, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, without any doubt, can be called the former 89th subdivision of the Russian Federation. Regardless of the Russian Federation's continuing desire not to say the word, "war" the actions being conducted against the Chechen troops action less than anything are reminiscent of anti-terrorist operation. Hopes for normalization of relations between Moscow and Grozny, if they ever were normal, have been reduced to ashes by Russian missiles and offensive air attacks. From the moment that the Federal Army closed the Chechen-Ingush border to refugees, Moscow's actions have increasingly taken on the clear character of genocide.
Very slowly, the Russian army has advanced, placing a complete fire wall in front of itself, moving from the north towards the mountains. Both sides are losing dozens of people each day. Grozny is encircled and subjected to mass artillery fire and bombardment. On October 28, the commanders of the federal forces announced that they were finally destroyed the building housing the Chechen General Staff, as well as the homes of a few field commanders, in particular the home of Shamil Basayev. This announcement was the start of something new - earlier Moscow had not officially announced nor admitted that it was bombing the Chechen capitol.
The missile attack carried out against Grozny on October 21 at 5:10 p.m., extended the boundary under discussion by the military and politicians on the "exact' nature of Russian army actions, which had claimed to be fighting exclusively against Chechen troops. According to eyewitnesses, the bombs came from high above the city and fell down in five or six missiles, which exploded in the air. The attack wave came from above, leaving the vertical walls of homes intact. "The effect of the attack was similar to the effect of an explosion of a warhead of a tactical missile," commented Aleksander Cherkassov, an observer from the Memorial Human Rights Protection Center. Such weapons of indiscriminate targeting belong to the list of those banned by the Geneva Conventions, and their use can be regarded as a war crime.
"We stopped to buy some pirozhki at the market, I had brought only my purse. Then I heard a strange, impossible drone. There was an enormous red glow in the sky. I know from the last war what sort of missiles there are, but this was unusual, I huddled up, and said, "Well, this is the end for us"; an in that moment there was a huge explosion. Laterally just a few meters away from us, where we could have been, a man in a car has his head blown off, and he remained sitting behind the weal. In another car, people had their eyes blown out. It was horrible," said a an eyewitness, Zaynap Gashayeva.
Ms. Gashayeva is a member of the non-governmental organization, "The Echo of War." Her organization had filmed events right after the explosion in he hospital and in the market, which will give a full enough picture of the events that took place. In the evening, men and women of all ages lay wounded and dead every which way on the dirty ground, beginning with infants and ending with very oldest of the elderly. Not less than two hundred people had died. In the maternity hospital, which ended up in the zone of fire, 13 women 15 newborns were killed. "The Government of the Russian Federation announced that it will begin to act in a completely decisive and clear way in order to obtain the complete reestablishment of law and order on the entire territory of the Chechen Republic and to liberate Chechnya from terrorists and other bandit groups.
" This was the official announcement of the Government of the Russian Federation on October 22 "on the "Situation in the Chechen Republic and Measures for its Regulation." Just a few day prior, official figures of Russia, beginning with Putin, completely denied the obvious, and placed all blame for the events taking place in the Chechen capitol on fighters, "who were working out their differences," and the market, he claimed, was an arms market. Then they let the cat out of the bag. General Vladimir Shamanov, commander of the western army formation, was completely satisfied with the operation. As he announced live on the air to NTB: "Intercepted radio transmission between the terrorists taken wri te after the explosion showed that they were in a panic." In this situation, it would seems that closing the border of the Chechen Republic to the population fleeing the war is the Russian government's announcement that the enemy is the entire Chechen nation. Beginning on October 22, General Shamanov announced that the Russian army would begin closing the Chechen-Ingush border. On October 25, the border was closed completely. Zaynap Gashayeva, who left Chechnya on October 24 on a mountain trope, witnessed the Russian troops opening fire on defeated and unarmed people who appeared on at borders. At the Assinovska station on the Chechen side, a few thousand refugees were concentrated, waiting for the promised exit corridor. The situation for almost two hundred thousand Chechens already taken in by Ingushetia is even worse; those having permission from the Federal Migration Service can leave from there by train transport, but many have nowhere to go, they are way to returning to their own homes. About one and half thousand of them, according Ruslan Aushev, are located in hospitals in the Ingush republics.
The events invoke less and less leniency beyond the borders of Russia.
General Secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and Sadak Ogata, the
head of UNHCR, expressed concern over the growing number of victims among
the civilian population. Gerhard Schroder, the Chancellor or the Federal
Republic of Germany called the center of Grozny a "slaughterhouse." Madeline
Albright, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, together with the Minister of
Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, appeared at a press conference and
announced that "both sides are deeply concerned by the use of force and
the growing number of victims among the civilian population." calling Russia
"not to repeat the past mistakes of Chechnya and to begin a dialogue with
the legitimate Chechen partners on reaching a peaceful agreement." Similar
criticism was expressed against Russia by the European Union. Bill Clinton,
the president of the United States, in no uncertain terms, called upon
the Russian Army to halt its activities, ing that ethnic and religious
conflicts can only be resolved behind the negotiation table. According
to available information, General Secretary of the UN Kofi Annan intends
to send an observer mission to Chechnya. Taking this into consideration,
the introduction of an international peacekeeping force in Chechnya, as
a way to end the crisis, looks like a completely credible possibility.
Bosnia and Hercegovina: NEW ELECTION LAW
By Radenko Udovicic
As Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes more like a state, the turn has come for the election legislature to change. Draft of the permanent Election law, made by a team of experts - foreign and local lawyers working under umbrella of OSCE Mission in BiH and Office of High Representative, was made public in mid-August. Draft underwent critique of political parties and other interested organisations, and was also "checked" by the Council of Europe where EU experts gave their "blessing" thus showing that the international community makes strong use of its authority to promote such law. On 22nd October the final draft, which is about to enter parliamentary discussion, was made public. Last draft of the election law, contrary to the expectations of some political parties, doesn't contain too drastic changes in the election legislature.
For example, controversial provision according to which Bosniak and Croatian members of the BiH Presidency were chosen by Federation votes; Serb member according to votes from Republic of Srpska, remains in power. Still, methods of electing Presidency members has undergone some changes. Each Presidency candidate will have to collect 3000 signatures of support, at least 500 of them being from a different entity. It is interesting that he/she requires support of at least two district councils from another entity. OSCE thinks that these new rules will prevent nationalistic and often controversial with another nation candidates from becoming elected to the mutual institutions.
Another innovation is introduction of the so-called system of preferential voting for members of the BiH presidency and for president and vice-president of the Republic Srpska. This system allows voters to rank candidates instead of voting only for their first choice. If none of the candidates gets a majority of votes, the candidate who got the least votes is eliminated. His/her votes are then distributed among other candidates. Also new is that each candidate for Presidency must nominate his deputy who will only become relevant if elected member of the Presidency dies or is unfit for his duty. It is considered that this rule was adopted because of the bad health of Alija Izetbegovic which spurred many speculations about who will succeed him and on what grounds. Another innovation is introduction of so-called open lists. A voter can vote for, besides a party, individual candidates on party lists. Accordingly, order of the candidates who enter the parliament will be decided upon number of votes, thus rendering their order on the voting list irrelevant.
Parties must also nominate 30 per cent female candidates and evenly distribute them on their lists. Interesting provision of proposed election law relates to financing. Parties, coalitions and independent candidates cannot spend more than 2 DEM per each registered voter. If we take into account that BiH has approximately 2,5 million voters, a party running for office on all government levels can spend a maximum of 5 million DEM on election campaign. Also new is a different division of entities into election units. BiH Federation will be comprised of 5 election units, and Republic Srpska, up till now a singular unit, will be divided into 3. Proposed election law also incorporates better protection of the so-called "others" in Federation, this "others" mostly denoting Serbs. Thus, House of Nations in the Federation of BiH will also have a seat for the "others". Robert Barry, OSCE mission chief, presented another innovation which is not strictly connected with the election law, but will greatly influence election process. On the 1st of January 2000. Serbian refugees from Croatia now living in BiH will gain right to file citizenship requests which will, once obtained, make them eligible for the voters' right. It will not influence elections in April of 1999, because the registration expires on New Years Day, but they will be present on next general elections.
Already now, there are many voices in BiH which tell that giving citizenship to Croatian Serbs will free Croatia from a great burden of refugee return and protection of minority rights, which is one of the impediments for Croatian integration into Europe. Bosniaks in BiH strongly oppose the proposal, because they think that giving citizenship to Croatian Serbs will disturb national structure in BiH. Elections in BiH were, until now, based on temporary election law brought by OSCE at the first phase of implementing Dayton Accord. Election law is very important since the voting system can clear up next political scene in BiH. Opposition in Sarajevo has been pointing out that voting system by which a Serb members can be elected only if from Republic Srpska and by voters from that entity while Bosniak and Croat members only from Federation furthers divisions in BiH and has asked for change of rules. Still, new proposal doesn't have any radical changes in that direction. Fiercest proponent of radical changes in election legislature is Sejfudin Tokic, one of the vice-presidents of the Socialdemocrat party. He accuses international community of using double criteria. "Some international representatives use double criteria. They advocate one solution at home while imposing another in Bosnia" - said Tokic. He argues that the most controversial provision in new law is the one that didn't change the fact that candidates for the most important state institutions can only be Serbs from RS and Bosniaks and Croats from Federation.
"It's segregation. A person from any EU country can run for office in another, and that is not allowed within Bosnia" - he said. OSCE has already rejected these allegations several times claiming that radical changes require change of constitution. Robert Barry, chief of OSCE mission in BiH, said that was constitutional, not just election issue. "In order to change that rule we need BiH Parliament to vote amendments to constitution. However, that is hard to realise since constitutional changes need to be supported by a majority of two-thirds" - said OSCE mission chief. Socialdemocrat party (SDP) made its draft of election law which will enter parliamentary procedure together with the international. The basic difference between two versions of the election law is exactly in the sphere of possibility for voting and running for the highest offices, SDP proposal having no limits. SDP has already announced that, in case of adoption of the international proposal of the election law, they plan to turn to the Court for Human Rights because of "anti-European character" of the election law. Also, opposition party MBO even appealed to all Federation parties to boycott elections if international law is imposed.
As distinguished from the parties with headquarters in Sarajevo, Serbian
and Croatian parties in BiH think that present changes are in favour of
civil concept instead of nationalist decided upon in Dayton. These parties
emphasised many times that even present proposals were contrary to their
interests, and that they will never accept some radical changes advocated
by the social-democrat opposition. Many times in BiH emerged a question
of will international community, if consensus on election law is not reached,
impose the present draft since that possibility is founded in the special
authority of international community in BiH. International representatives
didn't give a certain answer to that question, but there is a general impression
that the international community will do it. Solutions given by the draft
are a compromise between nationalist and civil option in BiH: All compromises
in BiH were, until now, imposed from the outside and it is probable that
will also be the case with the election law.
Lithuania: WRIGGLING FREE FROM RUSSIAN INFLUENCE
By Howard Jarvis
Lithuania: WRIGGLING FREE FROM RUSSIA INFLUENCE
By Howard Jarvis
Eighteen months of negotiations ended on 29 October when a controversial oil deal was signed in Vilnius, Lithuania, between the Lithuanian government and US-based company Williams International. Two governments have fallen, ministers have resigned and prominent economists, the opposition and the Lithuanian president have all protested at the wisdom of the deal which, many feel, could bankrupt the economy. The Lithuanian government, dominated by the centre-right Conservative Party, has deliberately chosen terms which are financially more detrimental in order to avoid the involvement of a Russian oil company. The deal involves the sale of a controlling stake in the state-owned Mazeikiu Nafta oil complex, which includes an oil refinery, a recently contructed offshore terminal and a pipeline. It was signed by Williams representatives together with the head of the Lithuanian working group for the negotiations, Sigitas Kaktys, and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. Kaktys, however, replaced the previous head, Eugenijus Maldeikis, only days before while Kubilius became prime minister on the very day the deal was signed. Maldeikis, who was also economics minister, and the previous prime minister Rolandas Paksas were among those Lithuanian officials who have resigned because of their opposition to the deal.
Since the construction of the offshore terminal, Mazeikiu Nafta has been sinking deeper into debt. An investor was needed quickly. Negotiations began with Williams without setting up a public tender. It soon became apparent that the talks involved giving Williams a controlling share. In April, the then-Interior Minister Vincas Babilius, announced that the decision to start talks with a US company without even consulting Russia's oil giant LUKoil, which was also hoping for a controlling share, was "a deliberate political decision."
The small Baltic state is trying to wriggle free of Russian influence over its economy. LUKoil already supplies Maziekiu Nafta will crude, and has threatened to cut off the supplies if the deal goes ahead. Russia's reaction to the signing ceremony has yet to be felt. With the deal, Williams purchases 33 per cent of Mazeikiu Nafta as well as operational control. It has the option to buy a controlling share over the next seven years.
Paksas risked his premiership on 18 October in a surprise announcement and televised address in which he said that he refused to sign the deal with Williams because Lithuania would have to provide US$ 353 million up front to cover Mazeikiu Nafta's debts and for reconstruction at the oil refinery. He feared this sum could plunge the economy - already in recession and buckling under the weight of a dangerous budget deficit - into serious trouble. "Lithuania has this amount of money," Paksas said in his televised address. "But that's all it has."
Over the years, the IMF and the World Bank have watched Lithuania's widening budget deficit with alarm. At the moment, it stands at 5.8 per cent of GDP and the Williams deal, according to the IMF, could raise it to 10 per cent. Vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Joachim Jahnke, arrived in Vilnius for the conclusion of the deal and offered to help Lithuania secure better terms. A minor reduction in the investment required from the Lithuanian side to US$ 344 million was agreed shortly before the signing.
Paksas has been in office only five months, but he was already a popular 'folk hero' prime minister. His stand against the deal was seen as a stand for ordinary Lithuanians, since he made it clear in his address that education, health and benefits would all suffer; every spare cent would have to go towards financing the deal.
Since he made his announcement, both public and professional opinion has come out strongly in support of his opinion. When on 19 October the deal with Williams was approved by the Lithuanian government, both Maldeikis and the finance minister Jonas Lionginas resigned. Both economists had stood against the deal. Nevertheless, Paksas continued to try to secure more favourable terms for Lithuania. As he did so, 3,000 people, mostly students, demonstrated outside parliament expressing their solidarity with Paksas. Prominent personalities such as former president Algirdas Brazauskas and Vilnius University Rector Rolandas Pavilionis spoke to the crowd. Some minor strikes were even organized around the country.
Opposition politicians have actively campaigned against the deal. The Social Democratic Party is planning to force a referendum on the issue. Paksas, until now a Conservative Party member, has been jokingly called the new leader of the opposition. On the day the deal was signed, President Valdas Adamkus surprised many by officially announcing he also did not support it. He had been a strong believer in the deal until Paksas' resignation and his comments are sure to complicate the future relationship between president and government.
With the Williams deal now signed, the fortunes of the ruling Conservative Party are likely to fall even lower than they are presently. The press is full of speculation that Williams was selected as an investor through friends of the party's chairman,
Parliamentary Speaker Vytautas Landsbergis, and Landsbergis is an almost universally hated figure. However, the fact is that Lithuania needs to find energy sector partners other than Russia if it is to escape the political pressure which its powerful and unpredictable neighbour can exert using its supply of crude oil on most of its neighbours. Indeed, it was this that prompted Maldeikis to visit international pariah state Iran in September. An alternative source of crude to that of Russia must be found. Landsbergis, who led Lithuania's struggle for independence from the Soviet Union, knows this more than most.