Pickle king jars with the plans of Lithuanian's elite

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The Independent Online

Lithuanian tongues have trouble getting around his name. Yet Viktor Uspaskich's exotic moniker has provided little resistance in his climb to the pinnacle of politics.

Lithuanian tongues have trouble getting around his name. Yet Viktor Uspaskich's exotic moniker has provided little resistance in his climb to the pinnacle of politics.

As Lithuania's richest MP who, in part, amassed his fortune thorugh his massive pickle factory, Uspaskich, 45, would make a colourful prime minister by any country's standards. But in a country with bitter memories of its Soviet past, Mr Uspaskich's Russian ethnicity- along with his controversial politics - have caused consternation among many in the political elite.

As Lithuanians went to the polls in the final round of parliamentary elections yesterday, Uspaskich's recently-formed Labour Party was poised to trounce both the ruling leftist coalition and establishment parties of the right. In the first round of elections held on 10 October, Labour garnered 28.6 per cent of the popular vote, outstripping the second-place coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas by eight percentage points.

Mr Uspaskich has been ridiculed by opponents as a pork-barrelling populist. He has promised to raise pensions and lower taxes.

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