Development of the State Security Department from 1990
On March 26 1990 the Government of the Republic of Lithuania established the State Security Department under the Cabinet of Ministers. Mečys Laurinkus, the signature of the Act of Independence, was appointed to the position of the first Director of the Security Department of independent Lithuania.
At that time, the main task of VSD was to collect information about the plans of the structures hostile to the independence of the state to return Lithuania to the composition of the USSR and to overthrow the legitimate leadership of the Republic of Lithuania by force. The threats of the USSR decreased only after the putsch in Moscow in 1991. The State Security Department began to investigate other criminal offences posing threats to the security of the state.
During the process of organization of the structure of the independent state, VSD was subject to various reorganizations:
At the end of 1991 VSD was reorganized into the National Security Service;
After half a year, under the Order of the Government of July 31, 1992, the Security Service was established instead of the National Security Service;
On May 9 1994 the State Security Department was re-established instead of the Security Service.
In 1994 Seimas adopted the Law on the State Security Department which determined the fields of activities of the Department. At the end of the year the Government approved the Statute of the State Security Department. These documents created the clear legal basis of the activities of the Department, as they regulated its activities, determined the liability of the officials and the social guarantees granted to them.
Department had many functions which are not characteristic to the intelligence authority. It was determined that VSD investigates the crimes under its competence, searches for the criminals and performs their interrogation, takes measures to protect the economic basis of the state, as well as ensures protection of the leaders and guests of the state. The Security Department was obliged to protect the objects of national significance from emergencies and catastrophes, ensure the protection of the national communication, as well as to investigate criminal offences committed by the state officials and other persons, if they could cause significant damage to the state interests.
In performance of such or similar functions, VSD officials complied with the Law on Operative Activities. They were entitled not only to warn the suspected persons but also to arrest and keep them in the guard-rooms of the institutions for home affairs.
On January 21, 2010 State Protection Service approved the concept of enhancement of intelligence control and coordination according to which the national intelligence system had to be reorganized. It was the first time when the highest management level of the state determined the principles of activities of the national intelligence institutions, especially, the State Security Department. During the implementation of VSD reorganization, it was aimed to transform the Department into the traditional intelligence service with no tasks related to prosecution.
Under the law of December 23 2010 the pre-trial investigation function of VSD was eliminated. It was the expression of political will to treat the Department as the intelligence institution and not as the legal enforcement one. Activities of VSD were adjusted and intelligence and counter-intelligence, as the main fields of activities of the institution have been developed purposefully.
Since June 1, 2011 under the initiative of VSD, the Secretariat for the Protection of Secrets (SPS) was dissociated from the Department under the Law on the State and Service Secrets, as VSD was a potential party of the disputes (previously the Director of VSD was the Chairman of SPS.
On October 17, 2012 Seimas adopted the revision of the Intelligence Law which was very consistently and conceptually examined by the National Security and Defence Committee of Seimas. This Law simplified the legal system regulating the activities of the intelligence services and eliminated the VSD Law, VSD Statute and the Statute of the Second Department of Operations Services under the Ministry of the National Defence.
On January 1 2013 the State Security Department began to work under the new Intelligence Law.
The new law has essentially transformed the regulation of the activities of the intelligence institutions (VSD, Second Department of Operations Services under the Ministry of the National Defence): the concept of counter-intelligence and intelligence was detailed and the aims and principles of these activities were determined. The Intelligence Law comprehensively regulates control of intelligence institutions and determines the model and scope of such activities (Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Government, and Seimas Ombudsman). The Intelligence Law has also detailed the governmental control which had not been determined before.
The Law established that the State Defence Unit was main coordinator of the intelligence institutions and clearly determined the procedure of formation of tasks to the intelligence institutions and reporting.
The Law has comprehensively regulated the procedure and methods of collection of the intelligence information, protection of such information and liability for its unlawful use. Intelligence and counter-intelligence were disconnected from prosecution and investigation of criminal acts. The Intelligence Law determined that all activities of the intelligence institutions which might limit Constitutional rights and freedoms of a citizen must be sanctioned by the decision of a district court.
The Intelligence Law introduced new requirements, prohibitions, and limitations applicable to the intelligence officials only, which are not applied to any other Lithuanian state authority. For example, the working time of the intelligence officials is unconventional, disciplinary offences are not subject to the limitation period, travels to a foreign state are allowed only with the approval of the supervisor and such travels are not allowed to some countries of the world. The intelligence officials are not allowed to participate in activities of political parties and organizations, associations, and other non-political unions, they are also not allowed to create trade unions, to picket and engage in any other activities for additional remuneration. Under this Law the leadership of the intelligence institutions gained new measures to enhance internal discipline and internal counter-intelligence security.
These methods aimed for impartiality of the intelligence officials and promotion to employ their skills and energy only for the service activities, i. e. to ensure the security of the state interests and its citizens. Under these provisions it was also aimed to ensure impeccable reputation of the officials and their competences and loyalty to Lithuania.
In June, 2017 the National Security and Defence Committee of Seimas approved the revision of the Intelligence Law, i. e. the intelligence officials were granted more authorities in implementation of their tasks: they were entitled to use a firearm and physical force (physical force and special measures), as well as mental force (warn about the intent to use physical force or firearm); and protection of the intelligence officials from unjustified chase after the use of force or firearm was ensured.