2 Lithuanian diplomats fired amid YouTube scandal

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Two high-ranking Lithuanian diplomats were fired Thursday after their telephone conversations criticizing the president and insulting the countries where they served were secretly recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

The country’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Arunas Zurauskas, and its ambassador to Hungary, Nerijus Juska, will be removed from duty by September 30, President Dalia Grybauskaite’s office said.

Four telephone conversations between the two diplomats were posted on YouTube in July. In the recording, the ambassadors criticized and joked with each other about Grybauskaite, the prime minister and Azerbaijan and Hungary. Among other things, they made sarcastic comments about Grybauskaite’s choice to fly low-cost airlines on official trips.

It is not clear who recorded the calls and uploaded them to the site. The accounts used to post the sound clips were created the same day and removed shortly after the scandal broke.

Lithuania’s foreign ministry has launched an investigation into the telephone snooping, but the government wanted to remove diplomats from service and that move was backed by head of the state on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Grybauskaite acknowledged that the conversations were “very unprofessional” and immature.

The opposition slammed the decision to fire the diplomats.

“The reaction to the leaked records has showed the authors of this provocation that Lithuania can be easily manipulated,” the country’s former foreign minister, Audronis Azubalis, told local news agency BNS.

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