Viktor Uspaskich

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Viktor Uspaskich
Viktor Uspaskich July 2019.jpg
Member of the European Parliament
Assumed office
2014
In office
2009–2012
Succeeded byJustina Vitkauskaitė
ConstituencyLithuania
Member of the Seimas
In office
2000–2005
Preceded byAlgimantas Salamakinas
Succeeded byVirginija Baltraitienė
ConstituencyKėdainiai
In office
2008–2009
Succeeded byJonas Pinskus
Minister of Economy
In office
29 October 2004 – 29 June 2005
Preceded byPetras Čėsna
Succeeded byKęstutis Daukšys
Personal details
Born (1959-07-24) 24 July 1959 (age 62)
Urdoma, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political partyLabour Party (2003–15; 2017–present)
Independent (2015–17)
Spouse(s)Jolanta Blažytė (m. 1991-2017; divorced)
Children4

Viktor Uspaskich (Russian: Виктор Викторович Успасских, Lithuanian: Viktoras Uspaskichas; born 24 July 1959) is a Russian-born Lithuanian entrepreneur and politician.

Early life[edit]

He was born in the village of Urdoma, Arkhangelsk Oblast in what was then the Russian SFSR. He was born into a family of forestry workers. He graduated from Urdom high school in 1976. From 1977 to 1979, he served in the Soviet Army. After the army, he continued to work in the construction of gas pipelines. He arrived in the Lithuanian SSR in 1985 and worked as a welder in the gas industry. He left shortly after for Finland, before returning in 1987, divorcing his Belarusian wife with two children (Julia, Eduard) and marrying Jolanta Blažytė. He formed his own company Efektas in 1990, and took citizenship of the newly formed Republic of Lithuania in 1991.

With power he quickly gained tremendous success in his business empire that now includes the importation of natural gas from Gazprom, in addition to flourishing enterprises in the food production and animal fodder industries.

Political career[edit]

Between 1997 and 2003 was chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Employers, and in 2000 was selected as a non-party member of the Naujoji sąjunga (New Union) social liberal party in the Seimas (parliament). His own political ambitions led him to form the Darbo Partija (Labour Party) in 2003. The DP scored highly during the 2004 European Parliamentary Elections, gaining 30.2% of the popular vote and returning 5 MEPs. That same year, he became Minister of Economic Affairs in Lithuania's coalition government. He held this until 2006.

Since 2014, and previously from 2009 to 2012, Viktor Uspaskich has been a Member of the European Parliament for Lithuania.

The European Parliament has twice stripped Uspaskich's legal immunity.[1]

Tax fraud[edit]

In the end of May 2006 his political party Darbo Partija (Labour Party) was suspected of income violations by the financial police.

Victor Uspaskich flew to his hometown Urdoma (Russia) to his brother's funeral and came back in late 2007. He is believed to have been hiding from the law enforcement and interpol. Lithuania had issued an arrest warrant for Uspaskich, who was in Russia, as he was suspected of tax fraud.[2] In July 2013, Uspaskich was sentenced to 4 years in prison for tax fraud.[3]

He has not served the prison sentence claiming his legal immunity as member of the Lithuanian Parliament and, since the May 2014 elections, member of the European Parliament.[4][5] Even though the imunity has been stripped, Lithuanian authorities were not able to actually persecute Uspaskich due to limtation period and the formal reorganisation of the Labour Party.

Covid-19 curing water[edit]

On 27 December 2020, Uspaskich started advertising mineral water that can be bought via a network of individuals across the country. He claims that the water improves the immune system and protects against Covid-19. These statements have been condemned by politicians, medics, various officials, as well as by his own party members.[6]

The company selling the water is mainly owned by Uspaskich's children.

Lithuania's authorities have started investigations of illicit advertisement which can lead to a fine of up to €100,000.

Homophobic and transphobic remarks[edit]

On 10 January 2021 Uspaskich published a Facebook video where he spoke about LGBT people, calling them "perverts":[7]

Those who put their dick under a skirt and go into the street and shout, they are (...) perverts, and such things must not be tolerated.

He has been asked to apologise publicly by his group within the European Parliament, Renew Europe which, after an internal disciplinary procedure, has terminated his membership.[8] After this, the Labour Party announced its withdrawal from Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "EP strips Lithuanian MEP Uspaskich of legal immunity". DELFI. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  2. ^ BBC (2006-08-30). "Lithuania seeks minister's arrest". BBC News. Retrieved August 31, 2006.
  3. ^ Uspaskich sentenced to four years in prison
  4. ^ Prosecutor General asks Seimas to revoke immunity of Uspaskich and Ačas [1]
  5. ^ Naujai išrinktiems europarlamentarams įteikti pažymėjimai "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Lithuanian MEP under fire for advertising Covid-19 'cure'". lrt.lt. 2020-12-29. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  7. ^ "Lithuanian MEP Uspakich apologises for homophobic remarks". DELFI. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  8. ^ "Viktor Uspaskich MEP's membership of Renew Europe terminated - News - Renew Europe". reneweuropegroup.eu. Archived from the original on 2021-01-21.

External links[edit]