VilNews

THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

27 June 2016
www.holidayinnvilnius.lt/
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By Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

Close to 50% of all Lithuanians live outside their home country as there through nearly 200 years has been wave after wave of emigration from Lithuania.

In the 1800s there were many who emigrated because of poor conditions in the home country, as well as repression and persecution of Tsar Russia that occupied Lithuania over the period 1795 - 1915. When Lithuania again was a free country in the period 1918-1940, there was a small number, often intellectuals, who returned to their homeland.

Towards the end of WWII, when Stalin's Red Army was ab of the out to push Hitler Germany's troops back, there were hundreds of thousands who fled westward to avoid deportation to Siberia and similar abuse. Many of those who remained in Lithuania when the Iron Curtain fell, were deported to the cold hell far east. Tens of thousands were killed during the guerrilla warfare that raged in the Baltic region in the years 1944-1953 and later.

During the 46 years when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union from 1944 to 1990 there was only sporadic contact between the inhabitants and the large diaspora in western countries, particularly the US and Australia, but Lithuanians never gave up the hope that their homeland would again be free and independent.

In 1990-1991, this happened after underground forces for many years had worked for such a detachment from the Soviet yoke.

In 1991 Lithuania's population about 4.7 million, but today's emigration to Western Europe and the United States has resulted in dramatic decrease in population, and there now lives only about 2.9 million in the very country.

Lithuania is thus today a nation spread over many countries around the world, and it requires a lot of prudence and good communication to keep this nation together and to keep Lithuanian language and culture alive all over the world.

Below we present some stories from past and present describing how Lithuanians have emigrated or fled from their home country, and how they over the years have established themselves in various countries and cultures.
 

How Chicago became
Lithuania’s second
capital


Read more…

Lithuanian DPs
in Australia after WW2


Read more…

90% of all Jews in
South Africa are
from Lithuania


Read more…

Hi, I am 18, I left
Lithuania 2 years ago


Read more…

No LT leaders called
to say they love me


Read more…

From Vilnius
University to
modeling in Milan


Read more…

Greetings from
Venezuela!


Read more…

We shall become a
force, one to be
desired and respected
as an ally on behalf of
Lithuania


Read more…

We need to unite our
hearts and minds for
the sake of a new
Lithuania


Read more…


Go to our SECTION 7 to read many more stories about Lithuanians in the world …

Category : Front page

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So my question is simple
– why don’t we try harder to be better
every day? Why cannot we create
Christmas miracles
all year long?


By Rugilė Šablinskaitė
Brussels – Belgium

...It's a time for giving, a time for getting,
A time for forgiving and for forgetting.
Christmas is love, Christmas is peace,
A time for hating and fighting to cease’…

sings Cliff Richard.

I guess everyone knows this cliché Christmas song as well as many more others that talk about this special time of the year when everyone becomes just a little bit better, a little bit more understanding, more giving, less angry. Oh, and we shouldn’t forget about the so called Christmas miracle. So many ads and campaigns shouting: ‘Help someone have their Christmas miracle’.

Read more...
Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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Six Lithuanian Christmas stories

By Aage Myhre. Editor-in-Chief
 
Go to our SECTION 4 to read more stories from Lithuania‘s proud history ...
 
1936
From Palanga, West Lithuania
Lithuania's happy interwar period approaches its end. But Christmas is still celebrated in joy and harmony.
1942
From the Lena river delta, Arctic Siberia
Lithuania was occupied in 1940. The massive, cruel deportations to bitterly cold Siberia began in 1941.
1945
From Šilagalis, North Lithuania
A sad Christmas story of a mother witnessing her partisan son being tortured and killed by Soviet soldiers.
1945
From a German refugee camp
Hundreds of thousands managed to flee to the West in 1944, before Stalin's Red Army began its horrible abuses.
1980
From Soviet Lithuania
35 years of 'the war after the war', of cruel occupation – Soviet systems permeate everything. Is there any hope?
2015
From around the world
The most wonderful time of the year – with old traditions, cuisine and spirit – for Lithuanians all over the world.
Category : Front page

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The Genocide and Resistance
Research Centre of Lithuania
(GRRCL) insults all Jews and
decent citizens here

SERGEY KANOVICH
Photo R. Dačkaus

By Dovaidas PABIRŽIS
Journal “Veidas”
 
Poet and social activist Sergey Kanovich, who lives between Vilnius and Brussels, as he says, is currently implementing the project of his life, “Lost Shtetl”. The restored cemetery of Šeduva and completely redone memorials at the mass killing places in the vicinity of the town, were presented to the public some time ago, an exceptionally beautiful and touching monument by Romas Kvintas was unveiled in the town’s center in October, and the cultural center of Šeduva has been restored. However, there’s still much to be done – among the plans, the “Lost Shtetl” museum which will focus on the history of Lithuanian Jewry. Read more...
Category : Front page / Litvak forum

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The Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews)
and their formidable position
in world history
By Aage Myhre
Editor-in-Cief

I have on various occasions, in several countries, asked people if they know of the Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) and their special place in world history and in many of today's countries and societies around the world. The answer is usually negative, which has puzzled me – in view of the unprecedented and exceptional role the Litvaks have had within a very wide range of fields, in politics, economics, business and science, to prominent roles in music, movies and many other cultural fields.

Go to our SECTION 9 to read more Litvak stories ...
Litvak fiddler in
Vilnius Old Town
The Litvaks
Jews trace their origins in Lithuania back to the days of Grand Duke Gediminas in the early 14th century, and by the late 15th century there were already thriving Jewish communities here. In time, Vilnius became known as the "Jerusalem of the North," a centre of Jewish religious learning. The Jews of Lithuania lived an intense Jewish life, and their role and influence in the major Jewish political and cultural movements were far greater than their numbers would have suggested. Vilnius became a prominent international, intellectual centre. Here there were once as many synagogues (totally 96) as churches—including the Great Synagogue, built in 1573, a vast complex of prayer spaces and schools.
Vilnius was like
a Mediterranean city
EMMANUEL ZINGERIS: “Vilnius was like a Mediterranean city. Lithuania before Holocaust was a society of love, full of colourful life and warm interaction between people. Imagine that here, in the street we are sitting, the windows would now be open, the mothers would be shouting to their children, and the street would be filled with joyful people discussing, singing, reading and mingling in a happy crowd of friends, colleagues and visitors.”
THE GAON (Wisest Rabbi) of Vilna.
Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna was born in Vilnius in 1720 and died in 1797.
“If you seek wisdom,
Vilnius is the place to go”
Before WWII there was a saying among European Jews: if you are keen on earning money, go to Lodz; if you seek wisdom, Vilnius is the place to go. “I live in this city with a feeling that it does not belong to me and that I have only come here for a visit – as a human being, a poet and a Lithuanian. In this respect Vilnius could be compared only to Jerusalem. Only Jerusalem is the city of God, whereas Vilnius is the city of a dream. Trivial as it might seem, it was founded after Gediminas has a dream. It’s as if Vilnius was not created by man – you have the feeling that Vilnius has risen from the ground, from the confluence of the rivers, from the landscape – it rises on its own, possibly with some support by man. It is also in the details that the beauty of Vilnius lies. On the one hand, the Vilnius of the dream lets its citizens merely touch it; on the other hand, Vilnius sucks them in and swallows them”
Kovno Chief Rabbi Yitzchak
Elchanan Spector (1817-1896),
served as chief rabbi of Kovno, the
most prominent rabbinical position
at the height of 19th century
Lithuanian Jewry.
Kaunas was an
important centre of Jewish life
Jews are first known to have lived in Kaunas (Kovno) as early as 1410 when they were brought forcibly as prisoners of war by the Grand Duke Vytautas. Many of those Jews were later active as traders between Kovno and Danzig (today's Gdansk, Poland). Living conditions for many Jews were squalid. In 1858, archaic living restrictions were relaxed and all but 6,000 of the city's 35,000 Jews flocked to the Old Town in search of something better. In July 1941, however, the Nazis expelled all the Jews from the town and sent them back to Slobodka. The Kovno Ghetto was thus established. Kaunas became an important center of Jewish cultural life in the latter half of the 19th century. Distinguished Jewish leaders moved here from Vilnius, the capital, to establish yeshivas. Influential thinkers also moved to Kaunas.
The Jewish Museum in Cape Town
is more Lithuanian than
Lithuania itself.
90% of all Jews in
South Africa are Litvaks
It is considered that around 90% of the approximately 80,000 Jews living in South Africa are of Lithuanian descent (the so-called Litvaks), which thus constitutes the largest pocket of Litvaks in the world! You are hereby invited to learn more about this unique Jewish community that still holds Lithuania alive in their hearts, museums and synagogues. The Jewish Museum in Cape Town offers visitors a journey back in time. Most museums do. The striking feature of this museum, however, is that the journey to the past also brings us to a completely different part of our world, from Africa's southern tip to a seemingly modest little country far to the north.
Two children in the Kaunas
(Kovno) Ghetto, Lithuania.
Yad Vashem Photo Archive, 4789
Kaunas Ghetto (1941-1944):
An entire urban district
turned into a merciless death camp
What happened to the Jews in Lithuania during World War II is a matter of grim record. Of the 250.000 Jews in 1939, only between 12.500 and 17.500 survived; of those, only about 200 remain today. It has been estimated that of the 265.000 Jews living in Lithuania in June 1941, 254.000 or 95% were murdered during the German occupation. No other Jewish community in Nazi-occupied Europe was so comprehensively destroyed.
Professor Irena Veisaite,
a Holcaust survivor. .
“I do not remember the faces of
any evil people from my past,
but I do very well remember the
faces of those that expressed
goodness. We have to learn
to love and to understand.”
Litvaks of today
During the 19th and 20th century, tens of thousands of Lithuanian Jews emigrated to the United States of America. Many Lithuanian Jews also emigrated to South Africa which became famous as a haven for its 100.000 Jews who were spared the Holocaust. A small number also emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. The rise of the Nazis in Germany and the ensuing Holocaust destroyed the vast majority of Jews who had not managed to leave Lithuania and its environs.
Jews of Lithuanian origin are today in leading roles and positions around the world – some of our nowadays most famous politicians, scientists, businessmen, economists, actors, writers and singers have Litvak background.
Category : Front page / Litvak forum

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Exhibition at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon
State Jewish Museum, Naugarduko street 19/2, Vilnius.
16 December 2015 – 13 March 2016.
Category : Front page / Litvak forum

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Memory of the Vilnius
sound that once was

"The Eternal Question” / “DI ALTE KASHE”
FRAIDY KATZ sings in Yiddish

Category : Front page / Litvak forum

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I continued to make aggressive,
unflinching eye contact with her
while she described her mother's
passion for cooking the traditional Lithuanian dishes
“kugelis”and “balandeliai”
By Paul Cataldo
American Songwriter in Lithuania
 
It was the biggest musical tour of my life. Over 42 thousand kilometers and 175 performances ranging from Boston, MA ,South to North Carolina, West to L.A. California and straight North to Alaska. I towed along with me my (13ft) fiberglass camper which I have named Maybelle. The layout of the camper is very efficient and comes equipped with a two burner gas stove, sink, toilet, shower, and bed. On April 1st, 2015 the tour began. I recall feeling bright eyed, sprightly and vigorous...light even, ready for the wind.
Read more...
Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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The Kaunas mosque has become
an important contact point for old
and new Muslim communities
 

By Daiva Repečkaitė
http://www.daivarepeckaite.com/en

The community of Kaunas mosque provided an opportunity for anyone interested to go inside the unique Tatar mosque of Kaunas, to see a Muslim prayer, look around and enjoy food from various countries and cultures. The mosque has become an important contact point for old and new Muslim communities, the latter consisting of foreign students, workers, spouses of Lithuanians, expats and local converts. The 3000-strong Tatar community has been around for centuries and is can help their sisters and brothers in faith with accessing Lithuanian institutions, networking and, most importantly, feeling at home in this relatively homogeneous European society. Other functioning mosques are in distant small towns. Vilnius doesn′t have a mosque, and the current mayor, Remigijus Šimašius (liberal) made it clear that he will not do anything in his power to help establish one, even though, when Syrian and Iraqi refugees are resettled according to the EU scheme next year, the Muslim community in Vilnius will grow. There is not a single Shia mosque (most Shia Muslims are apparently from Azerbaijan), but Shia believers can attend Sunni services.

Read more...
Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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An old hospital is being turned
into a Tech Park in Vilnius
By Monika Poškaitytė
Communication Coordinator
Vilnius Tech Park
 
Lithuania aims to become a hotspot for startups in the region. Therefore, the old hospital buildings in the historical park of Sapiegos in Vilnius are about to become a park for entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation. In Antakalnis district in Vilnius, close proximity to the city centre.

Two private investors, together with their partners, offered to municipality to lease the buildings for 25 years and invest nearly 8 m euro to the renovation of the heavily rundown buildings. The agreement has been made. While keeping their original looks and historical value (there are some fragments of decorated floors, etc. left that will be kept), the buildings are about to be reborn as 8 000 sq meter space for startups and related infrastructure.

Read more...
Category : Business, economy, investments / Front page

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We need to unite our hearts
and minds for the sake
of a new Lithuania

By Žygimantas Pavilionis,
Former Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States of America

I am deeply grateful for the exceptional honor and privilege to serve my country in Washington D.C. for five consecutive years (2010-2015). I guess it was the peak of my diplomatic career that inspired me to take my final step towards politics (I am now running for office in 2016 parliamentary elections), but most importantly, it was the period when I met and learned so much from my fellow Lithuanian Americans.

Why was this encounter so important for me personally?

First of all, I had an immediate connection to the strong and vibrant civil society of interwar independent Lithuania, preserved in Chicago and other great U.S. cities, strengthened by the great American spirit. The sense of human dignity, solidarity, Lithuanian heritage, our common mission was tremendous, inspiring, and breathtaking.

Read more...
Category : Front page / Lithuania in the world

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Lithuanian pajamas business

By Aage Myhre

When thinking about fashion centers, one generally thinks about Milan, Paris, London or New York and not about Vilnius or Lithuania.  However Vilnius is home to many innovative designers. It is also the manufacturing hub for several European brands. For many, Vilnius is attractive due to the combination of European quality and lower costs compared to many other European countries.  To find out more, I had a chat with American Gene Emmer, living in Vilnius since 2008, owner of the company that makes the Kajamaz adult footed pajamas.

Read more...
Category : Front page / The world in Lithuania

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2nd part: VilNews interview with

Professor Landsbergis, Veisaitė


V. LANDSBERGIS
IN STRASBOURG 1990


SMUIKELĖ – V. LANDSBERGIS’
FAVOURITE PORTRAIT.
BY R. PETROŠIŪTE FROM KELMĖ

I. VEISAITE WITH HER DAUGHTER AND GRADCHILDREN
L/R: MICHAEL, ALINA AND DANIEL SLAVINSKY, 2011.

Journalist: Dalia Cidzikaitė
Questions prepared by Aage Myhre

Today we have the pleasure of presenting second last) part of a large, exclusive interview with two professors who have meant infinitely much for their homeland Lithuania. In today's interview, we focus on their memories, experiences of and thoughts about the BELOW eras of their lives, over the years 1950-2015:

·       WHY IS STALIN STILL CONSIDERED A HERO BY MANY?
·        THE LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT WHO WAS DEPORTED TO SIBERIA
·        WAS LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SMETONA
·        MURDERED BY THE KGB?
·        WHY DO LITHUANIANS ABROAD NOT RETURN HOME?
·        DUAL CITIZENSHIP
·        DID YOU KNOW EACH OTHER?
·        LITHUANIA’S UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT DURING SOVIET TIMES
·        HOW COULD THE LITHUANIAN COMMUNISTS
·        GET BACK TO POWER ALREADY IN 1992?
·        GEORGE SOROS AND A HUMANE DEVELOPMENT OF LITHUANIA
·        DID YOU MEET VLADIMIR PUTIN FACE-TO-FACE?
·        THE WORDS OF EINSTEIN

Read more...
Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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Film “Those Who Dare” at
Stanford University, California


By Vytautas Sliupas,
Burlingame, CA

Stanford University in California is sponsoring Baltic Film Series! October 19th was the Opening Night of the film “Those Who Dare”. It features the Baltic nations' (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) struggle for the restoration of their independence, from 1986 to 1991 during the period of Gorbachev's “Perestroika”.

The film is based upon the live memories of Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, 1988-1995. He visited Vilnius at the height of Lithuanian struggle, witnessed sieges of the Parliament and the TV tower and subsequently was instrumental in getting Iceland to be the first nation to recognize independence of the Baltic States. The film captures the dramatic course of events in the Baltic capitals of Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn in January 1991 when the Soviet OMON narcotized, Ministry of Internal Affairs of SSSR, troops attempted to brutally suppress the independence movements.

Mr. Jon B. Hannibalsson in person gave a 30 minute introduction of the events in the Baltics in those days. Two memorable events that had greatest influence on the world, and helped to convince other countries to recognize the Independences, he said, were “The Singing Revolution” and the “Baltic Way”.

The film “Those Who Dare” is highly recommended to everyone. Other Baltic Film Series will feature: “Dangerous Summer” (2000), “In the Crosswind” (2014), and “Land of Songs” (2014). The Baltic Film Series is co-sponsored by Stanford Libraries and the Hoover Institutes' Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. 

Category : Front page

OPINIONS

Have your say. Send to:
editor@VilNews.com


By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

Read more...
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Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

Read more...
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* * *
VilNews
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius


* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
future
By Leonidas Donskis
Kaunas
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political
commentator

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

Read more...
* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!


* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

Read more...
* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

Read more...
* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

Read more...
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Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.
MADE IN WALES -
ENGLISH VERSION OF THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS.

Read more...
* * *
IS IT POSSIBLE TO
COMMENT ON OUR
ARTICLES? :-)
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
www.anatanassileika.com

http://www.vdu.lt/lt/rasytojas-antanas-sileika-pristatys-savo-kuryba/
https://leu.lt/lt/lf/lf_naujienos/kvieciame-i-rasytojo-59hc.html
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
HERE.
* * *
EU-Russia:
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

Read more...
* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

Read more...
* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

Read more...
* * *

Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

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* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,
PhD, CPC

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

Read more...
* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

Read more...
* * *
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