Rolandas Paksas

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Rolandas Paksas
Rolandas Paksas- horizontali foto.jpg
President of Lithuania
In office
26 February 2003 – 6 April 2004
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas
Preceded by Valdas Adamkus
Succeeded by Artūras Paulauskas (Acting)
Prime Minister of Lithuania
In office
26 October 2000 – 20 June 2001
President Valdas Adamkus
Preceded by Andrius Kubilius
Succeeded by Eugenijus Gentvilas (Acting)
In office
18 May 1999 – 27 October 1999
President Valdas Adamkus
Preceded by Irena Degutienė (Acting)
Succeeded by Irena Degutienė (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1956-06-10) 10 June 1956 (age 58)
Telšiai, Soviet Union
(now Lithuania)
Political party Communist Party (Before 1989)
Democratic Labour Party (1989–1995)
Homeland Union (1995–2000)
Liberal Union (2000–2002)
Order and Justice (2002–present)
Spouse(s) Laima Paksienė
Alma mater Vilnius Gediminas Technical University
Leningrad Civil Aviation Academy

Rolandas Paksas ([rɔˈɫɐ̂ˑn̪d̪ɐs̪ ˈpäːk̪s̪ɐs̪] ( ); born 10 June 1956) is a Lithuanian politician who was President of Lithuania from 2003 to 2004. He was previously Prime Minister of Lithuania in 1999 and again from 2000 to 2001, and he also served as Mayor of Vilnius from 1997 to 1999 and again from 2000 to 2001. He has led Order and Justice since 2004 and has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2009.

A national aerobatics champion in the 1980s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Paksas founded a construction company, Restako. In 1997, he was elected to Vilnius City Council for the centre-right Homeland Union and became mayor. In May 1999, Paksas was appointed Prime Minister, but resigned five months later after a disagreement over privatisation. Paksas joined the Liberal Union of Lithuania (LLS) in 2000. The LLS won the 2000 election, and Paksas became PM again, but he left within seven months after another dispute over economic reforms.

In 2002, Paksas founded the Liberal Democratic Party, and ran for the presidency, winning the run-off against incumbent Valdas Adamkus in January 2003. It emerged that he had granted citizenship to a major campaign donor, leading to his impeachment and removal from office in April 2004. He was the first European head of state to have been impeached.[1] Barred from the Seimas, Paksas was elected to the European Parliament in 2009, while leading his party, now called Order and Justice (TT). His lifetime ban from the Seimas was ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights in 2011.

Early life, education and non-political career[edit]

Born in Telšiai, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union. His parents are Elena and Feliksas Paksai. In 1974, he finished Zemaites High School and continued studies in Vilnius Gediminas Technical Institute. Paksas received a degree in civil engineering in 1979.[2] In 1984, he graduated Leningrad Civil Aviation Academy.[2] [3] During this period, he competed in aerobatics competitions, participating in both Soviet and Lithuanian teams and winning several championships.[2][4]

From 1992 to 1997, Rolandas Paksas was the President of the construction company "Restako".[4]

Political career[edit]

Mayor of Vilnius and Prime Minister[edit]

Paksas, a former member of Communist Party of Lithuania (LKP) and its successor leftist Democratic Labour Party (LDDP) in 1995 switched his political orientation in favour of conservative right Homeland Union (Lithuanian Conservatives). In 1997 Paksas was elected to Vilnius City Council and became the Mayor of the Vilnius city municipality.[4] Paksas also served as chairman of the Vilnius branch of the Homeland Union (Lithuanian Conservatives).

In May 1999, Vagnorius stepped down and President Valdas Adamkus asked Paksas to become the Prime Minister. The Conservatives had 68 of the Seimas' 138 seats and were part of an 81-member coalition with the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party.

In June 1999, he became Prime Minister, heading the ninth Government after independence. Five months later, he resigned because of a disagreement over the sale of Mažeikių Nafta, a major Lithuanian oil refining company, to a US oil company.[2] He then served as Special Assignments envoy to Adamkus.[5]

After leaving Homeland Union Paksas joined Liberal Union of Lithuania and in April 2000, he became the Mayor of the Vilnius city municipality again. In 2000, he was elected as the Prime Minister in the eleventh Cabinet and served from November 2000 to June 2001. In March 2002, Paksas was elected as a chairman of his newly founded Liberal Democratic Party.

President of Lithuania[edit]

On 5 January 2003, he was elected President of Lithuania, after a surprise win over the incumbent Valdas Adamkus in a runoff. In the first round of elections, Paksas finished second with 19.7% of vote but, in the runoff, he gathered 54.9%. His platform included pledges to reduce poverty and income disparities, introduce the death penalty for drug traffickers, and move Lithuania towards a more market-based economy.[2]

On 26 February 2003 his term as a President began. During his term, concerns arose that he had ties to the Russian mafia.[1] Yuri Borisov, president of the aviation company Avia Baltika, had donated $400,000 to his campaign,[1] and was given Lithuanian citizenship by Paksas' decree. This decree was later ruled to be unconstitutional by Constitutional Court of Lithuania. Paksas' connections were investigated by the Department of Security. In early 2004, the Seimas started impeachment proceedings against him. On 31 March 2004 the Constitutional Court of Lithuania found him guilty of violating the constitution and his oath of office.[6] On 6 April 2004, the Parliament (Seimas) voted on three charges: that he had leaked classified information about his investigation to Borisov; that he had improperly restored Borisov's citizenship; and that he had interfered in a privatization transaction.[1] The vote passed, effectively removing Paksas from the presidency.[1]

Post-impeachment legal proceedings[edit]

Paksas expressed an intent to run in the June presidential election that was to replace him.[6] In response, on 4 May the Seimas passed a constitutional amendment barring impeached persons from standing for the presidency for five years following impeachment.[6] Following an appeal by Paksas supporters, the Constitutional Court of Lithuania ruled the amendment unconstitutional, holding instead that persons who had violated the constitution or failed to uphold their oaths of office could never again hold public offices that required an oath.[6]

The District Court of Vilnius found Paksas not guilty of disclosing classified information (state secrets).[7] This decision was reversed in 2005 by the Court of Appeals of the Republic of Lithuania, on the basis that the District Court had not linked all the supporting evidence.[7] The Appeals Court, while finding Paksas guilty of a criminal act, did not impose a penalty, stating that Paksas's departure from public service meant that he no longer posed a threat.[7]

In 2011, the European Court of Human Rights found the lifetime prohibition for Paksas to be elected to the parliament to be disproportionate and thus in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.[8][9]

Personal life[edit]

Rolandas Paksas is married to Laima Paksienė and has two children; Inga and Mindaugas. He is also a former member of both Soviet and Lithuanian national aerobatic teams, and a skilled stunt pilot who currently performs around the world.[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Irena Degutienė
Acting
Prime Minister of Lithuania
1999
Succeeded by
Irena Degutienė
Acting
Preceded by
Andrius Kubilius
Prime Minister of Lithuania
2000–2001
Succeeded by
Eugenijus Gentvilas
Acting
Preceded by
Valdas Adamkus
President of Lithuania
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Artūras Paulauskas
Acting