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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

24 September 2017
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Small towns in today’s Lithuania:

CRIME AND DECAY


Many of Lithuania's small towns suffer from decay and increasingly severe crime cases

Text: Aage Myhre, VilNews Editor-in-Chief

Every third year or so I go to visit some acquaintances in one of Lithuania's small towns. A few days ago it was again time to see these exceptionally friendly, nice people, and my little family and I were as always very much welcome guests at the home of our small-town friends when we arrived at the gate in front of their house.

When we last were there, in 2007, this was a family and a society that seemed to be in peaceful harmony. A little sleepy, yet idyllic atmosphere prevailed in both the home and the small town at that time.

No longer so.

“Criminal gangs appear to be about to take over in such a way that we, the law-abiding citizens no longer feel safe neither in the streets nor in our homes. Last night, for example, we were out at a restaurant just ten minutes walk from our house. When it was time to go home, it was already dark outside, and as the situation here has become so bad over the past couple of years we dared not walk, we felt we had no other choice than to take a taxi the few hundred meters back to our home. "

She speaks softly, sad and with deep seriousness in her voice as she explains the situation to us, this gentle woman who has lived in this town all her lifetime. Here she gave birth to and raised her now grown children who have given her great grandchildren whom she talks about with great pride in her voice, still expressing deep concerns on how it will be for them to experience an environment like this during their years of childhood and youth.

"Worst of all," the woman continues, "is that these criminals seem to no longer worry if they are being seen or discovered. Many break-ins in the houses around here happen in broad daylight, and it seems as if the police no longer have control of anything in our dear village.

A neighbour who came home to his house a few days ago was met outside his own front door by a stranger coming out of the house. ‘What are you doing here,’ our neighbour asked. ’ Well,’ replied the stranger, ‘what I had to do, I've already done.’ When our neighbour went in, he understood what the stranger had meant. The house was just completely stripped of all valuable items."

When I asked her what the police do in cases as the one she had just described, our acquaintance just scoffs. She no longer has respect for the police, judiciary or politicians in this country, she says, and more than suggests that many of them probably get a share of the cake from the many thefts and assaults taking place right in front of their noses.

I have, after we left our acquaintances, been trying to find out if the problems she describes about her hometown could also apply to other towns in this country. The answer is, unfortunately very discouraging, confirming that her hometown is not unique with regard to rapidly increasing crime and lack of respect for law and order.

What can we do to make life for this proud, bright woman and the many other law-abiding people around this great country a little safer and brighter again?

It is not up to me to answer, but both our President and our Prime Minister should take this problem seriously before the situation gets even more out of control.

The cancerous tumour is growing every day that passes...

The visit to our acquaintances in one of Lithuania's many small towns made a strong impression on me. When we drove out of town I saw in a new light the buildings, streets and the few people who were out this late afternoon. I saw that my former somewhat romantic view of this rural town was wrong. Or at least not complete. I saw that many of the houses were in decay and that very little had happened since I first came here 20 years ago.

And when I think about it, isn’t this the situation for the majority of Lithuania's small towns? They have not received their fair share of EU funds or investments that made Vilnius and partly the other major cities flourish.

Heritage is about to be lost. Buildings and outdoor environments disintegrate. People are suffering. Criminal gangs are gaining better footholds.

Is this the Lithuania we want to have? Of course not. But it is now. We, the people care about this country, living here or elsewhere on the globe, must begin to take action. It's all up to us, is it not?

Category : Featured black / Lithuania today



VilNews e-magazine is published in Vilnius, Lithuania. Editor-in-Chief: Mr. Aage Myhre. Inquires to the editorseditor@VilNews.com.
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