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Lithuania lawmakers sack president



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Lithuania
Rolandas Paksas

(CNN) -- Lithuania's parliament voted Tuesday to remove President Rolandas Paksas on charges he illegally granted citizenship to a Russian businessman who contributed to his campaign.

Parliament Speaker Arturas Paulauskas will serve as acting president of the former Soviet republic, a newly minted member of NATO, until elections can be held on June 13.

Eighty-six of the 115 members of the Seimas, Lithuania's parliament, voted to oust Paksas on two of the three charges; 89 lawmakers voted to remove him on the third charge, the body reported.

Lithuania joined the NATO alliance in March and is scheduled to enter the European Union in May.

In a televised address Monday, Paksas admitted making mistakes, which he said were the result of "simple human feelings." But he insisted, "None of my decisions or actions inflicted damage on Lithuania or harmed the interests of its people."

He urged his supporters to "maintain peace under all circumstances" in the aftermath of the vote.

Paksas was elected in January 2003. Lawmakers accused him of compromising national security through his ties to campaign contributor Yuri Borisov, of abusing his authority and attempting to "unlawfully influence the activities of private economic entities" on Borisov's behalf.

"Individuals of dubious reputation and ties with the criminal world and shadow business structures have exerted influence on the president's office and sought to have the top law enforcement officials replaced," the charges against Paksas stated.

Investigators also linked Borisov to a Russian company they said has ties to Russian intelligence services.

-- CNN Producer Nastya Anashkina contributed to this report.


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