Lithuanian Presidential Candidate Vėgėlė Fails to Qualify, Blames Journalists

Lithuanian presidential candidate Ignas Vėgėlė failed to qualify for the second round, blaming journalists for reports on his family's company allegedly violating Belarus sanctions. An investigation revealed the company's potential sanctions violation and illegal campaign funding, leading to Vėgėlė's defeat.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Lithuanian Presidential Candidate Vėgėlė Fails to Qualify, Blames Journalists

Lithuanian Presidential Candidate Vėgėlė Fails to Qualify, Blames Journalists

Lithuanian presidential candidate Ignas Vėgėlė has failed to qualify for the second round of the election and is now blaming journalists for his defeat. Vėgėlė, a lawyer who came in third place with 12% of the vote, claims that reports about his family's company allegedly violating Belarus sanctions and funneling money to his campaign may have cost him a spot in the runoff.

Why this matters: The allegations against Vėgėlė's family company highlight the importance of transparency in political funding and the need for strict enforcement of sanctions. This incident also raises concerns about the potential for corruption in political campaigns and its impact on the democratic process.

An investigation by international reporters, including Lithuania's independent media outlet Laisvės TV, revealed that UAB Vilpra, a company owned by Vėgėlė's family, may have indirectly violated sanctions on Belarus. The probe found that Vilpra sold air conditioning units to two Kyrgyz companies based at non-existent addresses, which were likely supplying a Belarusian firm that had previously violated sanctions.

The investigation also uncovered that Vėgėlė's family members, including his father, mother, and brother, donated almost 54,000 euros ($58,338) to his campaign. This is illegal in Lithuania, as businesses are banned from funding political campaigns. All three family members are linked to Vilpra through ownership or management roles.

Vėgėlė believes the media investigation may have misled voters and stated, "I will try to analyze how Mrs. Ingrida Šimonytė could have received more votes. Maybe it was due to those false investigations against companies managed by people close to me. I assume it could have been one of the factors that changed the results." He said the reports were "a blow to his reputation" and is now considering legal action against the journalists involved.

The first round of Lithuania's presidential election took place on Sunday, with a voter turnout of 59.37%. Incumbent Gitanas Nausėda came in first with 44% of the vote, while Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė received 20%. The two will face each other in a runoff on May 26. Vėgėlė, meanwhile, is weighing his options and re-evaluating his future in politics after the controversy surrounding his campaign and defeat in the first round.

Key Takeaways

  • Lithuanian presidential candidate Ignas Vėgėlė blames journalists for his defeat.
  • Vėgėlė's family company allegedly violated Belarus sanctions and funded his campaign.
  • Investigation reveals Vėgėlė's family members donated €54,000 to his campaign, violating Lithuanian law.
  • Vėgėlė came in third with 12% of the vote, missing the runoff.
  • Incumbent Gitanas Nausėda and PM Ingrida Šimonytė will face off in the May 26 runoff.