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Lithuania: President Says He Is Not Leaving Post

Vilnius, 2 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas (pictured) today refused to leave office despite the findings of a parliamentary inquiry linking him to organized crime. Paksas said in a statement broadcast on national television and radio that the goal of his accusers was to break him morally and destroy him politically.

Deputies moved this evening to open impeachment proceedings, creating a group to gather the necessary amount of signatures among deputies to start the proceedings.

According to Aloyzas Sakalas, the chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating Paksas's possible links to organized crime, there is good reason to start the impeachment process.

"The conclusion of the panel is that the threat for national security did exist and still exists as long as the president [Paksas] is under the direction and influence [of outside forces]," Sakalas said.

The Lithuanian parliament is expected to formally start impeachment proceedings against Paksas as early as Thursday (4 December).

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, who had remained neutral in the dispute, spoke out after the report's release, saying the matter was "all a problem of one person -- the president."