Lithuanian MP Faces Impeachment for Anti-Semitic Remarks

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.26 - 2024 1:57 PM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Lithuanian MP broke his oath of office and grossly violated the Constitution with his statements about Jewish people.

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Lithuanian MP Remigijus Žemaitaitis broke his oath of office and grossly violated the Constitution with his statements about Jewish people, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday.

"Remigijus Žemaitaitis' actions [...] run counter to the constitution. With these actions, Remigijus Žemaitaitis broke his oath of office and grossly violated the constitution," stated Constitutional Court President Gintaras Goda to the Lithuanian news outlet, LRT.

Following this ruling, lawmakers will now vote on stripping Žemaitaitis of his parliamentary mandate, unless he voluntarily steps down. To proceed with impeachment, at least 85 lawmakers need to vote in favor.

Background of the Impeachment

On November 21, the Lithuanian parliament decided to impeach Žemaitaitis, a member of the non-attached group in the Seimas, due to his anti-Semitic remarks. The case was referred to the Constitutional Court, which was asked to determine whether his statements were constitutional.

The conclusion of a special commission, approved by the Seimas, found that Žemaitaitis disregarded the oath’s requirement against incitement to national, racial, religious, or social hatred, violence, discrimination, slander, and disinformation.

In his Facebook posts last June, Žemaitaitis suggested that "the Jews and Russians" oppressed ethnic Lithuanians during World War II and were responsible for the 1944 massacre of the village of Pirčiupiai. However, this atrocity was committed by German SS troops.

In May, he posted a news story about a Palestinian school demolished by Israel in the West Bank, adding that Israel’s actions "increase the anger and, at the same time, the hatred towards Jews and their nation," including an anti-Semitic rhyme.

Žemaitaitis was elected to the parliament as a member of the Freedom and Justice party, but his membership was suspended last May over his Facebook posts. He registered a new party in January and is currently running for president.

Žemaitaitis Pledges to Resign

In response to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, Žemaitaitis announced he would resign to avoid an impeachment vote. If impeached, he would not be able to run for parliament or president for ten years.

"The fact is, as you can see, this is a partial court ruling, that is, 50 percent: the court does not say anything about the legal basis at all," he told journalists on Thursday.

"Since the court recused itself from ruling on the second question, that is, on the unlawful establishment of the commission, the fact is that I need to hand in my letter of resignation and be done with it."

Žemaitaitis plans to resign soon, likely within the next week.

He also mentioned that the Constitutional Court’s failure to rule on the legality of the Seimas impeachment commission could justify an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

His party, The Dawn of the Nemunas, will also take part in the general election later this year.

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