The Lithuanian parliament’s temporary commission looking at whether there are grounds for impeaching Remigijus Zemaitaitis over his anti-Semitic comments will decide on Monday on the next steps as the MP refuses to cooperate.
“This will be the first meeting with the opposition, and we will discuss how to formalize Zemaitaitis’ refusal to provide any information regarding his participation (in the commission’s hearing), and we will continue to work on our conclusion,” Arunas Valinskas, chairman of the commission, told BNS.
According to him, the commission has been unable to obtain any response from Zemaitaitis to its invitation to attend its hearing or to set a convenient time for him.
As a result, the parliament has extended the deadline for the commission to submit its conclusion to November 6.
“I personally addressed him in the Seimas hall. Then we also sent him a letter asking him to set (a date when he can provide information to the commission), and repeated our request last Monday. Calls, SMS messages, and so on have been sent to him,” said Valinskas.
“If you ask someone to provide information, and they don’t provide it, and they don’t say they need more time to do so, it’s difficult to interpret it as anything other than a refusal to cooperate,” he added.
The chairman said he will propose that Zemaitaitis’ non-cooperation be recorded in the commission’s conclusion on whether there are grounds for his impeachment.
“From Zemaitaitis’ comments, it becomes obvious that such behavior is a kind of abuse of the Statute which states that a member of the Seimas is to be heard. But it doesn’t say what to do if they don’t say anything but later claim that the conclusion is unlawful because they weren’t heard,” he said.
On Monday, the commission will also consider whether to include the MP’s latest statements about Israel in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attack into its conclusions, according to Valinskas.
Three opposition MPs – Tomas Tomilinas of the Democratic Union “For Lithuania”, Dovile Sakaliene of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), and Viktoras Fiodorovas of the Labor Party – are joining the impeachment commission on Monday.
The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union is the only opposition party that has refused to delegate its member to the panel.
The commission until now only consisted of MPs from the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party as all opposition groups in mid-September refused to join the ruling bloc’s initiative to launch impeachment proceedings against Zemaitaitis, a non-attached MP, for his anti-Semitic posts and statements.
However, most opposition parties changed their opinion after the Palestinian militant group’s attacks on Israel.
Commenting on the attacks, Zemaitaitis posted on Facebook, “I wonder how Israel’s Jews are feeling now that they are being baked? First Azerbaijan throws the Armenians out, now it is Israel’s turn? Back in May, I wrote that the actions of certain Israeli barbarians in Palestine would lead to hatred toward them and even against the whole nation!”
“Back then and now, Lithuanian comedians called me an anti-Semite. The question is whether our comedians still regard my warning as such. The stick has two ends: now the Israeli barbarians have to suffer for the killings of Palestinians,” he wrote.
The impeachment motion was drafted earlier, in mid-September.
It says that Zemaitaitis’ public statements and social media posts are anti-Semitic and incite to hatred.
The impeachment text quotes Zemaitaitis’ social media posts, such as “It turns out that, besides Putin, another animal has emerged in the world – ISRAEL” or “We, the Lithuanian nation, must never forget the Jews and the Russians who very actively contributed to the DESTRUCTION OF OUR PEOPLE!”, and others.
“After such events, it is no wonder why such sayings are born: ‘A Jew climbed a ladder and fell down accidentally. Take a stick, children, and kill that little Jew’,” the MP wrote earlier this year, referring to a folk counting-out rhyme.
According to the initiators, Zemaitaitis’ systematically repeated statements are aimed at inciting violence and hostility, justifying hatred against the Jewish people as a whole, and provoking social and national discord, which runs counter to the Constitution and the country’s interests in the area of international relations.
In response to the MP’s statements, the Prosecutor General’s Office is conducting a pre-trial investigation into public contempt and incitement to hatred against any national, racial, ethnic, religious or other group of people.
Zemaitaitis, who has legal immunity, was questioned as a special witness in the probe.
The MP insists that there is no basis for his impeachment. He denies any anti-Semitic content in his posts and says that all his statements can be substantiated with international documents or historical sources.
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