Riga, Latvia June 28, 2004
   To: The Chairman of Eurolines Sub-committee customers relations
   Attn.: Mrs.Wagenaar, Eurolines Netherlands
   From: Igor Kukushkin
   Dear Mrs. Wagenaar,
   My name is Igor Kukushkin, I am 49 years, a professional interpreter. This year on the 14th of March I travelled from Riga (Latvia) to Vilnius (Lithuania) by the bus of Lithuanian company TOKS - Tolimojo Keleivinio Transporto Kompanija, which is the member of Eurolines network and carries Eurolines brand name on its busses serving 11 international routes.
   Hereby I want to draw the attention of Eurolines to the outrageously poor and dangerous quality of service in terms of safety provided by TOKS drivers on the route I am going to describe and extremely dangerous position of irresponsibility, indifference and negligence on the part of TOKS administration, which constitute grounds for such accidents to happen in future and therefore are highly dangerous for all TOKS/Eurolines present customers. And I want you, Mrs. Wagenaar, as the official representative of Eurolines network to state your opinion on the issues below.
   The route I am writing about is Tallinn(Estonia)-Riga-Vilnius and the bus starts from Riga very early in the morning, at 3.10 a.m. In Riga the drivers took on board of the bus two men of suspicious appearance, one of whom, a skinhead was pronouncedly drunk. I could tell it right from the start of the journey as he and his friend sat right behind me and I was immediately suffocated by the reek of alcohol, coming from them. Approximately 15 minutes after the bus started the skinhead was caught stealing things from the bags of sleeping passengers. It was a middle-aged passenger from Estonia, who fortunately saw him doing it and he alarmed the passengers to inspect their belongings. Sure enough, one young Lithuanian girl from a group of Lithuanian students found that her mobile phone, credit cards, a purse and a photo camera had gone. The students dialed the number of her phone and it rang in the pocket of the skinhead's jacket and the owner managed to snatch it from him. In a minute her emptied purse was found in the seat of the skinhead, thus, he was caught red-handed. His companion at first pretended that he was asleep, then denied any knowledge of the rest of the missing things, but immediately several other belongings of the girl were found in his seat.
   The two TOKS drivers proved absolutely careless and disregarding the fact that the two criminals were very aggressive and hostile towards the passengers just kept on driving along the route to Latvian city of Bauska, it is one hour drive on the way to Latvian-Lithuanian border. The drivers left unprotected passengers in the company of the two criminals on the second floor where I was sitting too. The criminals started to threaten the passengers, they promised to call their friends on the mobile phone and to do all the bus. In fact they did call somebody and started boasting that their friends were on their way to us now. Really, you had to be there, Mrs. Wagenaar, to understand the horror of the situation for the passengers as the two insulted the girls and terrorized the passengers, intimidating them. And not a word of encouragement followed from the drivers, who just went downstairs and turned deaf ear to all that was happening upstairs!
   Then both criminals went downstairs to the toilet, as they loudly proclaimed, and shortly afterwards the bus going full speed stopped abruptly, causing numerous passengers standing in the aisle upstairs to fall. In a few seconds the bus started again and gathered speed, but then the driver once again hit the brakes violently, again sending some passengers, who stood in agitation in the aisle not knowing what was going, onto the floor. Then I heard a young Lithuanian girl crying from pain and I had a nauseating apprehension that the criminal hit her, because he might have returned and I could have not noticed that. I stood up to find out what was wrong with the girl (it appeared that when the driver hit the brakes abruptly again and again she fell and hit the arm of the chair with her head) the bus again stopped abruptly and this time, I fell on the floor myself together with five or six other passengers who stood up to find out what was happening. I hit the floor very painfully and got a bad shock too.
   Then hysterical cries came from downstairs, some women passengers were calling for help. Everybody upstairs stood in indecision, because the criminals might turn out even more dangerous being armed with the knife or something. In a minute I went downstairs alone, because the students were too young and inexperienced and it seemed I was the only grown man around. Cautiously I went downstairs and along the darkened saloon towards the drivers' compartment. Women passengers closer to the drivers' were shouting in panic: "Is there any man on the bus?! Help the driver!!" So I went to the drivers' and I found out that one driver was holding the skinhead by the right arm, twisting it, and the driver's face was bleeding. The driver, his face smashed, apparently attacked by the criminal, told me to hold the criminal and not to let him to the driver's compartment so that they could drive the bus and started to take care of the wound on his face.
   Mrs. Wagenaar, I will spare you the disgusting details of the fight that ensued. I am a man of a peaceful profession, I am not experienced in fighting and derive no particular pleasure from it, although I realize, that there are moments in one's life when one has to fight to defend his life, honour and self-respect. Actually, this is exactly why I am writing to you. I will only say that for the following hour or so, all the way to the city of Bauska I had to resist the numberless assaults of the criminals, protecting the drivers of the TOKS company (who did not even slow down the bus to lessen the danger to their 26 passengers aboard), my own life and the lives of other passengers. Several young Lithuanian students were helping me, but it was me, who blocked the way to the drivers, therefore I was the focal point of the attackers. Neither of the drivers interfered, though they created this horrible mess by letting the drunken men on board of the bus and then deciding to proceed along the route, disregarding the safety of the passengers. For one hour the two criminals continuously tried to get to the drivers to make them stop the bus and to get off and I did not let them as the drivers demanded. I got concussion of the brain, broken nose and damaged facial nerve and numerous facial wounds, all bleeding, my face black and blue and swollen. Finally, we delivered the criminals to the Latvian police in the city of Bauska. For more than an hour we all gave evidence to the police, the drivers, me, the middle-aged passenger from Estonia and the students. The police authorities started criminal investigation and I hope the two will be brought to justice in the near future.
   Mrs. Wagenaar, it is my aim, though, to draw your attention as the official representative of Eurolines Sub-committee for Customers Relations to the fact that all along during this horrible trip the drivers of the bus proved absolutely negligent to the safety of the passengers, the customers of the Lithuanian bus company TOKS, the member of Eurolines.
   First of all, the TOKS drivers took drunken persons on board, which is self-explicatory.
   Secondly, the actions of TOKS drivers showed them far from being trained properly for international routes as, after the theft had been found out, they decided just to go on driving along the route (1 hour to Bauska), while they could have returned to Riga (15-20 minutes) and hand in the criminals to the armed security officers and police at Riga bus station, who are there 24 hours a day. Mr. Indrashius, general director of TOKS in his reply to my complaint stated that "the drivers had taken the only correct decision to head for the nearest police station they knew".
   It follows quite clearly from this absurd and at the same time very revealing statement of the general director that he is not fit for the position of the senior executive he occupies in TOKS company today. Both Mr. Indrashius and his drivers had displayed a picturesque lack of common sense and care for the customers of TOKS and Eurolines. The drivers blatantly ignored the danger and discomfort of the passengers that they had left unprotected and helpless in the company of the criminals, who insulted women and abused and intimidated all passengers. At the same time, Mr. Indrashius in his reply to me underlines the fact that this crew of his drivers is very experienced. So much the worse for TOKS, Eurolines and their present and future customers, their safety, comfort and health then. It is my belief that truly experienced drivers would have shown themselves much more capable and much more willing to care for the passengers of TOKS/Eurolines. Having analyzed Mr. Indrashius reply to my complaint I came to conclusion that drivers' disregard for passengers safety and comfort was just a mere reflection of irresponsibility of TOKS general director.
   So, the drivers made an irresponsible decision to head for Bauska, the place of the nearest police station they knew according to the general director. Mr. Indrashius unappealingly holds them to be right. And it was the only correct decision indeed. Or was it?
   Apart form the most obvious, quick and effective solution of turning the bus back to Riga, the drivers could for example have stopped the bus. They then could have called the police and wait for it to arrive, such course of actions being much safer for the passengers. Meanwhile the drivers could have taken part in pacifying the criminals, thus fulfilling their duty to their company and showing respect for the customers, even though Mr. Indrashius states in his reply to me that "the drivers are not responsible for conflicts between the passengers".
   Well, the drivers by all means should be prepared to bear such responsibility if they let drunken passengers aboard, this is inevitable, because a person can only get on board of the bus with the driver's permission and the actions of a drunken person are unpredictable. And they are especially dangerously unpredictable in a confined space of a bus, moving on for several hours. But Mr. Indrashius does not seem to pay any attention to this fact. Besides, on the ill-fated route of March 14th 2004 it was not the conflict between the passengers. The initial conflict was not between me and the criminals it was the conflict between the drivers and the criminals. It started after the criminals physically attacked the drivers, it started with actual physical violence between the drivers and the criminals, not between the passengers, as Mr. Indrashius would be happy to interpret. And as this conflict between the drivers and the criminals threatened the lives of all those people inside the bus, me including, because the bus started skidding violently and the drivers proved helpless to resolve the conflict themselves I had to interfere into this conflict and to protect the drivers, thus protecting my own life and the lives of TOKS and Eurolines passengers. And at the request of the driver too, Mrs. Wagenaar. So, there is some difference, which again escapes Mr. Indrashius, but this particular general director does not impress me much as a man of insight and logic. Neither he grasps the seriousness of his present situation, otherwise I would not be writing this complaint to you, Mrs. Wagenaar.
   Mr. Indrashius says that "the drivers could not discriminate these two people on the grounds that they were drunk". But letting them in, the drivers discriminated all other passengers and created grounds for their discomfort, safety, health and the very lives as this case had clearly shown. Both general director of the Lithuanian company-carrier TOKS Mr. Indrahsius and his drivers are just ignoring the common sense and vilating national legislation of LIthuania, making all present and future customers of TOKS/Eurolines hostages of their irresponsibility and neglect. In his letter to me Mr. Indrashius tries to manipualate the following Article of Lithuanian Road Transport Code:
   Article 22. Rights and Duties of the Crew
   The crew shall have the right to:
   ...refuse to load or set down at the closest stop of any type passengers who are under the influence of alcohol, wear soiled clothing, carry luggage that is forbidden to transport, or in any other way violate the Rules of Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage. (official translation into English)
   Mr. Indrashius was trying to convince me in his reply, that as the Article 22 does not define the crew's duty, but specifies it as the right only, therefore his drivers can take on board of TOKS busses carrying the sign of Eurolines drunk passengers. General director obstinately repeated this opinion in several articles published in various newspapers, so Eurolines can be quite positive, TOKS drivers will be taking drunks on board in future too, blessed by this attitude of their general director. In fact, Mr. Indrashius in a recent interview to Lithuanian weekly Respublika (June 9, 2004) told the correspondent: "Drunken people are driving very often. Why the drivers let them in? Well, they just have this right". Which is an extremely irresponsible misinterpretation of the real right, provided to the drivers by Lithuanian law. The law defines the right of the driver not to take drunks, but Mr. Indrashius amends the national law in favour of his irresponsibility as the right to take the drunks on board.
   In the interview Mr. Indrasius continues jovially: "Well, a person smelling of alcohol comes to bus and brings along a bottle, but he can stand. Why not to carry him?" Thus, according to the general director of TOKS company, which is the member of Eurolines, a person may be reeking of alcohol, like it was the case I am describing, but if he can stand for a few seconds in front of the driver, while the driver checks his ticket or sells it to him, he can enter. As you can see, Mrs. Wagenaar, Mr. Indrashius does not consider the interests of the rest of Eurolines passengers for a minute, exactly like his drivers during the horrible ride. I suppose, if the skinhead were absolutely plastered or carried along the sign: "I am dead drunk, please do not carry me, I may disturb peace and comfort of the passengers", then Mr. Indrashius might advise his drivers to exercise the right, provided to them in Article 22 of the Transport Code. But if he could stand for a few seconds, so what? The drivers have the right to carry drunks. And they are not responsible for the conflicts between passengers. What an extravagant opinion for the general director of TOKS to express in public, Mrs. Wagenaar, especially in the light of the horrible events that had taken place in the bus and their consequences for the passengers. I hope, Mrs. Wagenaar, I made you realize the danger of Mr. Indrashius' attitude. And as he is the senior executive of TOKS company, this is then the guidelines for all TOKS drivers, serving 11 international routes. All of them carrying the sign of Eurolines.
   I do not subscribe to this irresponsible nonsense of the man, who evidently heads the big Lithuanian company-carrier by mistake. This not even the attitude of a grown-up man, to say nothing of the man realizing his responsibility for safety of Eurolines and TOKS customers. He made a lot of such irresponsible and silly statements to the press already and he will keep on doing it, this is now obvious to me. Thus, for example, he "counter arguments" some correspondent and asks her: "Suppose you were beaten in the shop? Who would be to blame?" It is so stupid, I will not even stop to comment it. In my understanding any company-carrier seriously aiming at providing quality service in terms of safety and comfort to its customers should instruct its drivers to strictly implement the right not to take passengers under the influence of alcohol (by the way, the Lithuanian law does not say "drunk" it is even more strict and indicates "under the influence of alcohol"). Otherwise such company should run hearses, not the regular busses. And normal companies-carriers in the Baltic region exhibit a very sound approach to the problem, to mention for example some Estonian companies. Their experience was described by editor assistant of MK-Latvija in her recent article (June 16, 2004). According to her Estonian drivers do not have any scruples regarding the drunks in their busses and make them leave the bus immediately. This problem is not the matter of law only, it is the matter of responsible attitude to the safety and comfort of the passengers on the part of the carrier. Something crucially important, which Mr. Indrashius blatantly disregards.
   Besides, it just turned out that Mr. Indrashius naively "forgets" to mention another Article of Lithuanian Rules of Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage, which defines actions of the crew towards drunk passengers much more strictly. This is the article that a senior expert of Lithuanian Roads and Road Transport Department quoted, when I turned to him for his expertise. In a recent article in Lithuanian newspaper Respublika of June 9, 2004 the expert repeated his quotation from the Lithuanian Rules of Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage, which are approved by the Ministry of Communication of Lithuanian Republic, Act No. 130 of 15.04.97.
   7.4. It is forbidden to carry passengers under the influence of alcohol, ...smoking in the saloon, disturbing peace of the passengers. The crew... has the right to set down such passengers at the closest stop of any type.
   So, Mr. Indrashius asks the correspondent, pretending that this law does not exist: "Why not to carry him (the drunk)?" Because it is against the National Law of your home country, Mr. Indrasius, that's why. There are no contradictions between provisions of the Article 22 of Road Transport Code and provisions Article 7.4 of The Rules Of Carriage of Passengers. There is a good logic and common sense, uniting these two articles. Please, see for yourself. Mrs. Wagenaar:
   22 Transport Code
   The crew shall have the right to refuse to load or set down at the closest stop of any type passengers who are under the influence of alcohol... or in any other way violate the Rules of Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage.
   7 The Rules of Carriage
   It is forbidden to carry passengers under the influence of alcohol, ...smoking in the saloon, disturbing peace of the passengers. The crew... has the right to set down such passengers at the closest stop of any type.
   This is common sense, which Mr. Indrashius tries to substitute by his misinterpretation of provisions of the law, thus turning these provisions into illusion and I have already informed the state organizations of Lithuania about the danger of his attitude, especially because he is senior executive of TOKS company. Please, mind, Mrs. Wagenaar, all this nonsense is going on under the trade name of Eurolines.
   One more thing, Mrs. Wagenaar, which may seem important to Eurolines. When criminal investigator from Bauska Mr. Mucinieks visited me in my Riga home to interrogate me in addition to my original statement, taken in Bauska, he informed me that the two criminals admitted themselves to the investigator that they were drunk that night.
   Coming back to other possible actions of the drivers: they could have simply let the criminals out, informing the police about their situation and to continue the route. They could also have called the police and requested that the police patrol car started moving towards the bus and thus to shorten the time during which the lives of all passengers aboard were endangered. Instead of all these and suchlike possible actions that would have ensured the safety of the 26 passengers the TOKS drivers just irresponsibly went on driving along the route full speed ahead for one hour, all this time the fight going on one step behind their backs! Mrs. Wagenaar, at this point I want to underline the following fact. In his latest interviews to the two newspapers Mr. Indrashius declared that his drivers did not risk the lives of the passengers at all. He does not explain this preposterous and outrageously irresponsible statement. It is obvious that he is not able to do it. Summing up all that Mr. Indrashius have already written to me and told three newspaper correspondents, I may say that it is enough to frighten any prospect customer of TOKS and Eurolines. Mr. Indrashius in his reply to me thanked me for my courage. I am not accepting his thanks as he clearly is not in a position to offer them to me. He is the senior executive of the company, who did not have enough courage to apologize to the customers and enough gratitude to say thank you to me and the other passengers, who protected TOKS/Eurolines drivers for an hour and tried to lie low until my complaint actually made him write a reply to me. And what a reply it was! Therefore I refuse to accept his thanks. At the same time, Mrs. Wagenaar, I hope you and Eurolines do see that courage is something that all present and future customers of TOKS/Eurolines in all 11 international routes will be needing constantly.
   It shows clearly that TOKS and consequently Eurolines drivers' qualification and experience with regards to their ability to make decisions in favour of passengers' safety are extremely poor. It also proves that the drivers did not know the route properly with regards to the location of the nearest police station as they ignored the possibility of going back to Riga or they just did not care for the comfort and safety of the passengers, both possibilities proving my point that the drivers were not properly trained for international routes. Mr. Jevgenij Stolovickij, Head of Passenger Transport Division of Lithuanian National Road Carriers Association LINAVA in his interview to the same newspaper said that the Association discussed the case and according to him the drivers explained "that they wanted to turn back to Riga, but the traffic there was too intense and it would be hard to get to the police". Mrs. Wagenaar, words fail me, as they failed Riga correspondent, because there is absolutely no traffic in Riga at a quarter past three in the morning. Apparently, the TOKS drivers take Mr. Indrashius for a lunatic if they can offer him such an absurd explanation or perhaps Mr. Indrashius takes Lithuanian National Association for lunatics if he can submit such an explanation to them. Anyway, the thousands of newspaper readers in Riga did not have so hearty a laugh for a very long time. Mr. Stolovickij managed to present the Association in a most winning light indeed. I will be contacting IRU about this matter too. I met Mr Stolovickij personally and it just turned out that Mr. Stolovickij simply does not know the laws of Lithuania. When I quoted to him Lithuanian Rules of Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage, Article 7.4. defining that it is forbidden to carry passengers under the influence of alcohol, he protested, saying that it does not say "forbidden", that the wording is different, but could not find the document at the time. Well, the wording is precisely the one that I quoted to him. The expert from the Ministry of Communication acknowledged that in the newspaper. Perhaps Mr. Stolovicky tried to entertain me in a subtle way, as he tried to entertain the readers of MK-Lartvija, but he failed in my case.
   The TOKS drivers did not even bother to see what was happening on the second floor and if any of the passengers needed help (one Lithuanian girl had hit the chair's arm so badly with her head, she was crying), after the bus had skidded several times and people fell on the floor and got injured! Please, Mrs. Wagenaar, you call that service, you call that comfort, you call that safety? Does it stand up to the common standards of Eurolines? Is this the common practice in Eurolines? Is this the attitude to the customers Eurolines cultivates within itself? Is it a сivilized way to provide service or is this just its barbarian variation, performed by one Lithuanian member of Eurolines? Please, Mrs. Wagenaar, I will really appreciate to hear your comments on behalf of Eurolines, just as the readers of mass media in Lithuania, Latvija, Estonia and 11 other countires will appreciate to hear them too. After all, traveling by bus is rather popular in Europe.
   Does Eurolines realize at all the scale of irresponsibility of its Lithuanian member with Mr. Indrashius at its head?
   Thirdly, to aggravate the matter for TOKS, Eurolines and their customers, it turned out that the drivers were especially helpless in the situation they had created by the chain of their own incompetent actions, because they did not even have the means to call the police, (this fact was revealed to me by TOKS general director Mr. Arunas Indrashius in his written reply to my complaint). When, finally, the police in Bauska was informed, it was done by one of the passengers, not by any of the drivers. Mrs. Wagenaar, I hold this as an outrageous fact of criminal negligence on the part of TOKS administration that the drivers of their Eurolines bus, carrying out international route between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were not properly equipped with the means of comminication with the police. Please, comment, Mrs. Wagenaar: must not all Eurolines drivers have means of communications with the police on international routes? Or is it again a shameful practice of one particular Lithuanian member of Eurolines network? What are European Union's standards on the means of communication in the busses carrying out international routes then? Do they allow the busses to perform international routes without them? These are the exact words of Mr. Indrashius from his written reply to my claim: "From the drivers explanations one can arrive at conclusion that they did not have any possibility to call the police as they did not have means for that." Sorry for clumsy wording, but I am trying to follow the style of the original as closely as possible. Mr. Indrashius in all his speech manners and attitudes makes an impression of the worst Soviet-type bureaucrat. It does not really matter whether the drivers did not have the mobile phones at all or they had them, but they were not in working condition or the simplest possible explanation: their mobile phone operated only within Lithuania, going out of range in Latvia and Estonia. The outrageously dangerous effect remains exactly the same: the bus was not properly prepared for the journey and in a situation of acute emergency the drivers of TOKS/Eurolines turned to be helpless and again had again to rely on passengers' help. It is worth to recall at this point that Mr.Idrashius wrote in his reply to me: "The driver does not bear responsibility for disturbance of peace in the bus on the route. This is the function of the police." Well, first of all, if this is the function of the police, why on earth TOKS company have not provided its drivers with the means of communication with the police? Or may be Mr. Indrashius believes this is the function of the passengers, to call the police? And secondly, Mr. Indrashius again forgets the Article 7.4. It is forbidden to carry passengers under the influence of alcohol, ...smoking in the saloon, disturbing peace of the passengers. The crew... has the right to set down such passengers at the closest stop of any type.
   The crew, according to the provisions of this Article should have set down the two criminals when they were found stealing things, because they disturbed peace of the passengers. Instead the drivers decided as Mr. Indrashius puts it "to protect the interests of the passengers, whose things were stolen". Is it not the function of the police though?
   The truth of the story is that having made up their minds to deliver the criminals to the police in Bauska, the TOKS drivers proved untrained, incompetent and unequipped to handle this extremely dangerous situation on their own and had to rely on their passengers for help, thus endangering their lives, the lives of TOKS and Eurolines customers.
   "Besides," Mr. Indrashius continues in a tone of seeming naivety," the drivers were carrying out their direct duty - provided safe driving." Please, Mrs. Wagenaar, ask all the numerous passengers who hit the floor and the armchairs of the bus repeatedly, how really safe this driving was. Apart form this, the only reason why we reached Bauska at all, was because me and Lithuanian students have been protecting TOKS/Eurolines "experienced drivers" for one hour. I can tell you, Mrs. Wagenaar, it was the longest hour in my life. And it still is, because I still have not fully recovered and I still can not work and nobody can tell me when I will be able to start earning again, this is extremely frustrating as it is going on for more than three months already. You see, Mrs. Wagenaar, I am not a general director and I am used to use my brain for living. The human brain is a very fine instrument and the traumas I got are very grave, so the doctor does not rule out possible after-effects and complications. I will spare you most unpleasant details, Mrs. Wagenaar, but I started this letter almost two months ago. In my normal condition I would have completed it in a couple of days, but I am still recovering from the injuries, the process is slow and painful. I lost a lot of memory, my concentration wanders, attention span is still rather short, I get tired very soon and it takes a long time to recuperate. Moreover, more than a month ago I started suffering from long bouts of severe headaches. For several hours a day I have to fight the pain so acute, it leaves me in cold sweat. The doctor informed me these are the side effects of the traumas I got, while protecting the drivers of TOKS/Eurolines and only time will tell how far-reaching they really are.
   To finish the portrait of Mr. Indrashius as the man of responsibility I also wish to inform you, Mrs. Wagenaar, that after all the shocking, disgusting, dangerous and stressful evens of the route, performed by TOKS /Eurolines bus on March 14, 2004 Mr. Indrashius and his administration tried to pretend that nothing happened and kept silent till I recovered enough to write a letter of complaint to them, three weeks later. The emergency situation I described above was very long and extremely dangerous and the administration of a respectful company should have shown some decency and respect for its customers, even if their drivers had failed to do so. But Mr. Indrashius did not even bother to find any of the passengers to offer his apologies for this shameful and extremely dangerous "service" and to enquire after their fate and health. Either Mr. Indrashius is under the impression that such outrageous indifference to the customers is normal attitude of all these independent companies that make up Eurolines organization or Mr. Indrashius abides by some very special personal laws of business ethics unknown to the rest of the civilized world or, perhaps, he does not view the situation as extraordinary and such situations happen on his Eurolines busses daily, I am really at a loss. And so are many thousands of newspaper readers both present and future. Though now, having all his answers to my claim and also his many answers to Latvian and Lithuanian newspapers I understand all too clearly, that the outrageous indifference and irresponsibility of the TOKS/Eurolines drivers on that ill-fated route is nothing more then just a mere reflection of the same attitude of their general director Mr. Arunas Indrashius, who is simply not fit to occupy his position in the company. If TOKS were not privately owned company I would have already visited the Ministry of Transport and Communication in Vilnius and spoken to the minister. But Mr. Indrashius is not the owner of TOKS, he is just a hired employee. Eventually, I will contact the owners of TOKS company about this matter as I have already found their address through the Lithuanian newspaper.
   Mrs. Wagenaar, I wrote two letters to Mr. Indrashius. One contained a claim for compensation for 5000.-Ls (five thousand Latvian lats) for physical and moral damages. I offered Mr. Indrashius to settle the matter amicably, without my appealing to the court as in the court the sum of claim would be significantly greater, submitting him all the details and copies of medical evidence. In that letter I also undertook, in case his reply were positive, to hold TOKS harmless (and to sign a corresponding document to that extent) against all possible complications, resulting from the traumas I got. I informed Mr. Indrashius that I had waited for three weeks to hear from his company, but no longer will allow TOKS to keep silent. In his reply to me Mr. Indrashius tried clumsily and illogically to wriggle off any responsibility for what happened to me on TOKS/Eurolines bus. In essence his reply is meaningless and it only shows too clearly that Lithuanian Eurolines member TOKS company is quite prepared to take money from the customers, but is not at all ready to undertake any responsibility for the quality of its "service". Yes, Lithuanian company TOKS, the member of Eurolines organization is prepared to take the money, but it is not prepared to provide civilized service in return, as the crucial quality of passenger carriage service is safety and this is exactly what TOKS and consequently Eurolines are not able to offer their customers. And as Mr. Indrashius is not capable and willing to understand that and goes about claiming in various newspapers that everything is well in his kingdom of TOKS, all present and future customers of TOKS/Eurolines on all the 11 international routes it serves are in constant danger. Wishful thinking is not the best quality of any senior executive, especially if safety of human lives is at stake. Eurolines must know this, Mrs. Wagenaar. It must know how irresponisble and unreliable Mr. Indrashius had shown his Lithuanian company TOKS to Eurolines business and prestige.
   It should know also, that I am will keep on attracting as much publicity to this case as possible, Mrs. Wagenaar. Currently I am constructing two sites in the Internet, one in Russian and Lithuanian and one in English, dedicated to the analysis of these disgusting events. So far I was only working with a limited number of national newspapers in Lithuania and Latvia. Much of what I have described in this complaint had already been reported in Riga newspaper "Chas" (23rd of March) in Russian language and twice in Lithuanian language in Vilnius newspaper "Vakaro Zinios" (21 and 22 April). Three recent publications appeared in Riga weekly "MK-Latvija" in Russian, June 16 and in Vilnius weekly "Respublika" June 9, 2004, it is published both in Russian and Lithuanian language. Now I am also preparing an article for international English reading public. I have already contacted one magazine and they are awaiting information from me. I will not beat about the bush Mrs. Wagenaar, I am going to send them this letter and eventually your answer too. I am also planning other actions.
   It is my rule in life, Mrs. Wagenaar, to treat every new person I meet with respect and to presume that this person is guided by decency and common sense, therefore on the 5th of April I wrote a second letter to Mr. Indrashius. I always try to be constructive and positive, therefore in this letter I suggested that the best way to keep up prestige of TOKS/ Eurolines after what had happened, would be for Mr. Indrashius as the head of TOKS to offer apologies to the passengers through some Baltic newspapers, which already published news, to inform the public about the measures taken, thus calming it down (many newspaper readers in Latvia and Lithuania, their friends and relatives choose to travel by bus) to thank young Lithuanian students, as they are the future of Mr. Indrashius' home country, Lithuania and behaved with honour and the middle-aged gentleman from Estonia who saw the theft and did not keep silent. I also suggested studying international experience of similar emergency situations and possibility to equip bus drivers carrying out international routes with special tools - e.g. handcuffs, clubs, etc., and if necessary to discuss and conduct negotiations with the police force of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
   The general director did not reply to that letter of mine at all. Mr. Indrashius does not seem to know the real meaning of prestige, cares nothing for the safety of TOKS/Eurolines passengers and appears not to give a damn about the future of Lithuania. He also can not allow himself to be generous, ignoring the fact that but for that middle-aged passenger from Estonia numerous Eurolines passengers would have waken up that morning missing their possessions. It seems that Mr. Indrashius is suffering from a bad case of what I would define as inTOKSication, which does not allow him to see the reality in its true light. Mrs. Wagenaar, all my life I tried to help people understand each other and for many years I worked with management of such companies as Sony, Casio, Bosch, Matsushita, Braun AG, Samsung, Merloni, SEB Group, Wayne Dresser, etc. I understood them all. I refuse to understand the head of Lithuanian company TOKS, member of Eurolines. Mr. Indrashius does not appear to know and care about a civilized way to serve international customers, he can only boast safety and reliability of his company, which is nothing, but hot air, words without real practical meaning.
   Mrs. Wagenaar, that morning in March I travelled to Vilnius to my fiancėe. I am planning to move to Vilnius altogether as soon as I am through with my current projects in Riga, so meanwhile my fiancėe and me drive to each other whenever we can. I hope you can imagine the shock my fiancėe experienced on seeing me after I went out of the bus with the sign Eurolines and how she suffers for me these three months. Mrs. Wagenaar, TOKS and therefore Eurolines have delayed the fulfillment of my projects for indefinite period and in a most painful way too and I am not going to put up with it. There is nothing in my life I take more seriously than happiness of my future family, which rests first and foremost on my health, ruined so badly by TOKS and Eurolines. I wrote this to Mr. Indrashius in my letter of April 5, 2004 and to protect this happiness I am going to leave no stone unturned, Mrs. Wagenaar.
   My basic claim for physical and moral damage for 5000.Ls, which Mr. Indrashius refused to fulfill will be eventually submitted to the court. I made all necessary inquiries and according to Lithuanian legislation I can appeal to the court within two years and one month since Mr. Indrashius' refusal to accept my claim for compensation. So, there is no particular hurry for me, especially taking into consideration all possible side-effects and consequential damages that I may suffer in future. I will take my time to prepare my case against TOKS strongly. I do not mind telling you Mrs. Wagenaar, that I will be quite content if the court rules for the two criminals to serve time in prison, they deserve it for what they had done to the passengers. But Mr. Indrashius, who presumably enjoys reputation of respectable man, is more repulsive to me than any of these two exactly because of his false respectability. He is the man who runs TOKS company and his reply to me and statements he makes in various newspapers clearly show him to be the one truly responsible for all horrible things that had happened in the bus and will be happening in future, this is inevitable, considering his attitude.
   To sum up once again. I, the passenger of Eurolines network bus, have suffered many grave injuries while protecting the drivers at their demand for one hour. I had to do this, because the drivers showed utmost disregard for the safety of the passengers, because they were not properly trained and equipped, I had to do it, because there was no other choice. Therefore, Mrs. Wagenaar, I ask once again for your statement on behalf of Eurolines:
  -- is it right that Eurolines drivers can take drunken persons on board?
  -- is it right that Eurolines drivers do not know the nearest police station?
  -- is it right that Eurolines drivers do not have means of communication with the police carrying passengers on the international route?
   - is it right that the administration of the Lithuanian company, member of Eurolines carrying its trade name on its numerous busses, which declares that `Our main goal and the most important task is to deliver the passengers safely, quickly and comfortably to the place of their destination, to perfect the quality of service rendering to the passengers by improving the employees` qualification, by perfecting the routes, by obtaining comfortable buses, by satisfying the passengers` demands.'- is it right that this administration does not even have sufficient understanding of business ethics to bother to inquire about the fate and health of its passengers, to bother to offer them apologies after such dreadful incident that had caused so much stress, when the passengers suffered so much physical pain, and in my case, sustained grave injuries, while protecting the lives of the drivers of the company and the lives of 26 passengers? Is it a civilized way to serve the customers, does it stand up to the standards of Eurolines of which TOKS is the member and European Union, of which Lithuania is now a part?
   In my understanding it is not, but I want to hear Euroline's statement. I want to hear Eurolines' position with respect to the emergency situation that had taken place in the bus, evaluation of the drivers' actions, their training and lack of communication with the police and especially Eurolines view of the position of indifference and neglect shown to the passengers by TOKS administration. Mrs. Wagenaar, with all due respect I insist on clear and unambiguous answers to my questions, as I am sick and tired of Mr. Indrashius' cheap tricks. It is my considerate opinion that TOKS company, headed by Mr. Indrashius, abides now by double standards, proclaiming safety, reliability and comfort as the key points of its service, but in reality not caring a damn about the lives, health and comfort of the passengers as this case had vividly shown. By this complaint of mine, I want Eurolines administration to realize with the utmost seriousness and care for the safety and quality of present and future service to its customers that incompetent and irresponsible actions of the drivers of TOKS company together with unethical and irresponsible position of TOKS company general director Mr. A. Indrashius had created in fact a grave precedent for such dreadful events to repeat again and again in future. The drivers had created emergency situation, the TOKS administration at first pretended that nothing happened at all and later, when I made Mr. Indrasius reply, tried to wriggle off all responsibility. This just will not do and I state hereby once again, that irresponsibility of TOKS drivers is a direct consequence of irresponsibility demonstrated by the general director Indrashius. Therefore I insist that Eurolines should take all necessary measures and precautions to ensure the safety of the passengers-customers of TOKS/Eurolines in future.
   On the 3rd of May 2004 I submitted to the Lithuanian State Road Transport Inspection my complaint about the outrageously poor quality of service provided by Eurolines member, Lithuanian company TOKS to its international customers, which endangered their lives for one hour, then tried to hush the incident from the authorities and to avoid any responsibility for it. I asked the authorities to launch investigation in order to establish degree of responsibility for all that happened of all TOKS personnel and I recommended to suspend TOKS license for carrying the passengers for the period of investigation. Recently I received their reply and I am now analyzing it to plan my next actions. The inspection could answer only part of my questions, therefore next month I am going to visit The Ministry Of Communications in Vilnius to further clear the matter.
   When I bought the ticket, Mrs. Wagenaar, I thus concluded agreement with TOKS and Eurolines and according to this agreement I should have been delivered safely, comfortably and in time to Vilnius, where my fiancėe was waiting for me. Instead, I was delivered two hours late, badly beaten in the bus and I would say nothing of comfort. During the ride the driver hit the brakes violently several times and I had hit the floor quite hard with my head. TOKS boasts to be a member of Eurolines network (www.toks.lt) It boasts that its membership in Eurolines proves its reliability, but it is just not true in the light of the incident I have written about. Yes, Lithuanian TOKS busses carry the sign of Eurolines, but TOKS and consequently Eurolines passengers in all these 11 international routes served by TOKS are in constant danger, there is no doubt about it. I hope, Mrs. Wagenaar, I made you realize that for hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers in Latvia and Lithuania the name of Euroline is no longer associated with safety.
   Finally, Mrs. Wagenaar, I wish also to inform you that TOKS general director Indrashius in his reply to me expressed gratitude "for being vigilant in protecting the belongings of other passengers", which I take as an insult and I am not accustomed to being insulted. You see, when the bus began skidding and the passengers started to fall down and it became clear that we were all in utmost danger, I came down to help the drivers, who were not able to cope with the situation of emergency, they had created themselves. The driver pushed the criminal into my hands and told me to hold him and not to let him into their compartment, so that they could drive the bus. He did not tell me to watch someone's belongings. This is a deliberate insult on the part of general director Mr. Indrashius.
   And this is not the end of the story. About ten days ago my fiancėe came to Riga and on Tuesday, June 15 at 17.40 I was seeing her to the bus Vilnius. She boarded the bus, it turned out the TOKS/Eurolines bus and I was standing there waiting for it to start when in the doorway I saw one of the drivers, who drove the bus on the 14th of March. I do not know his name yet, but I will find out if necessary. It was the one who made a decision and announced it to the passengers that the bus will go on to Bauska and it was the one who drove the bus while I stood in the aisle for an hour fighting the criminals and protecting him. He recognized me too. It was obvious, he was frightened and he started to insinuate me. I avoid scenes in general and in the presence of my fiancėe in particular, Mrs. Wagenaar, therefore I tried to stay calm. It took homo sapiens several million years to evolve from prehistoric primate to his modern state. It took the driver of the bus proudly decorated with Eurolines sign several seconds to turn into a chimpanzee. Standing in the doorway of the bus, jumping with anxiety, he started making indecent gestures at me, shouting: "You will not get any money! No money at all, you, fool!" As the driver was on duty I take it, he thus expressed in a very primitive and explicit way an official attitude of TOKS administration to me. The official part complete, he was not satisfied though and wishing to share his joy of recognition with his colleague (it was some other TOKS driver, not the one who was physically hurt on the 14th of March) he went on shouting inviting him to participate: "Come on here, there is the fool, who wants money!" By that time I just stopped paying any attention to the insults of this "experiences driver" and soon the bus started. Like father like son, they say. Like general director like drivers, I may add.
   This is, Mrs. Wagenaar, a splendid fresh touch of further publicity for TOKS company, which serves 11 international routes and Eurolines, of which TOKS is the member. What dignity of TOKS/Eurolines personell on duty, what respectability, care, training, decency, service, to say nothing of gratitude. Please, Mrs. Wagenaar, all this humiliation took place in front of some thirty or more passengers and my fiancėe and really, it was the last drop. When I bought the ticket with Eurolines trade name stamped on it, it did not tell that I would have to protect my own safety, safety of the passengers and safety of the drivers of the TOKS company for one hour. Moreover, it did not say that I would have to put up with the insults and humiliation of the TOKS/Eurolines personnel, who in all human traditions of decency should have been grateful to me. So far I did not look into possibility of taking legal actions against Eurolines, Mrs. Wagenaar, but I want to tell Eurolines that if ever Mr. Indrashius or any of TOKS personnel tries to insult me again, I will, because they do it under the trade name of Eurolines.
   It is getting better all the time, as The Beatles sang. I love this song, because I believe it's message is so optimistic and true. Slowly and painfully, but it is getting better, Mrs. Wagenaar and I can say that the last few days I felt almost well. This week I am leaving for Vilnius, I will stay there for a month or so. I am planning a series of articles in the local newspapers and I plan to write them myself, because I think the time has come for the readers to hear my story direct, not retold by the correspondents. I want things to get better in TOKS and Eurolines too.
   Best regards,
   Igor Kukushkin