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Archive for January, 2011

Easter traditions

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EASTER TRADITIONS of LITHUANIA

LIETUVIŲ VELYKINĖS TRADICIJOS

Text: Vin Karnila

From reading Aage‘s thoughtful words about Lithuanian Easter traditions it tranformed me back in time to when I was a young boy growing up in the Boston area of Massachusetts. Being the son of a Scottish mother and Lithuanian father I had the great fortune of experiencing the wonderfull traditions of not only the Lithuanian people but that of the Highland Scott‘s as well.

While along with the Lithuanian Christmas traditions we practiced many of the Scottish customs for Christmas and New Year as well but Easter is seemed was a time for the traditions of our Lithuanian ancestors. These were the traditions the Karnila family took with them from our ancestral home in Lithuania, the village of Guronys.

While occasionally we would visit members of my mother’s family on Easter, most often on Easter we would go to the home of my father’s sister, Ana (Karnilytė) Savanovich. This I think was by no small coincidence since months before Easter my brother and I would plead to our parents that it was an absolute requirement that we celebrate Easter at Aunt Ana’s house – as you read on you will understand why!!!

When we arrived at Ana’s house my brother and I were greeted with a basket of decorated Easter Eggs and sweets. This was of course, in true Lithuanian tradition, AFTER we had we had completely passed through the door and were standing inside the house and had also gone through all the kisses, hugs and pinches on the cheeks (from Ana) and handshakes from her husband John. As my brother and I started to go to work on the sweets and admire the eggs next came another big treat. Ana would come out with a tray of freshly baked, still warm cookies baked by you guessed it – the Velykos Kiškis!!! Now I guess the story behind the cookies from what Aage told you got changed a bit on its trip across the Atlantic Ocean but it seems that the Easter Bunny / A.K.A. Velykos Kiškis baked these cookies just this morning and brought them to Ana‘s home knowing that me and my brother would be there.

After enjoying ourselves on the sweets and cookies next came the what was probably one of the biggest events of the day – EASTER DINNER!!! I grew up enjoying Lithuanian traditional food but at Easter this was something completely different. Easter Dinner was the jack pot, the mother load, the meal to end all meals, the trip to the mountain top. Never at any one time were there so many Lithuanian dishes on the table at any one time. Remember on Chirstmas Eve there is no meat. For Easter there was every kind of meat you could think of. Roast pork, roast ham, roast chicken, roast anything you could possibly roast and maybe a few things you wouldn‘t want to roast. In addition blynai, dumplings, kugelis, salads of every variety you could imagine and of course mushrooms used in almost every dish. The table cloth was always white and always was adorned with some greenery. Now of course before we partook in this wonderful feast an egg was cut and a piece was given to every one seated so that as we all ate of this egg we joined as a family and bonded our love and dedication to each other. I must mention that the cutting of the egg became an art form if we had the pleasure of being joined by uncles Kaziemiras (Charles) and Jonas (John) and aunts Marytė (Mary) and Alicija (Alice) and their families. To cut one egg into about thirty equal pieces is truly an endeavor. After the meal came an incredible assortment of cakes, pies and sweets. Oh, did I mention that to wash this all down Ana had made some home made gira?

After stuffing ourselves to the max came some activities to work off all the food. It seems that the Velykų Senelė/Easter Grandmother had stopped by earlier that morning and left some beautifully decorated eggs for me and my brother. The problem was that she had hidden them outside and our task was to find them. As a very young child this was a little confusing because I thought it was the Easter Bunny’s responsibility to deliver all the eggs to every one. So I kind of sorted things out and came to the conclusion that yes in fact delivering the eggs was the Easter Bunny’s job however the eggs used in the egg hunt was the responsibility of Velykų Senelė. As I got older we then understood that this was another wonderful tradition of our people. I can say one thing about Ana and John, when it came to hiding eggs they displayed some incredible imagination not to mention athletic ability. You would not believe what we had to go through to get some of these eggs!!! To be honest, I don’t know who had more fun, the children finding the eggs or Ana and John watching us.

After finding all the eggs or let me put it this way, after finding all the eggs we could find (I think after fifty years there are still some unfound eggs sitting around there some where) we went back inside. All the children counted up the eggs they had found and the one with the most received some sweets as their prize for being the best egg hunter.

What came next was to me the most special event of the day. Of everything we did this is what I most fondly remember of our Easter traditions. For every child Ana had made a specially decorated egg. She would go around and present each child with this incredible work of art. All the children had the same reaction. We would just sit there with our mouths agape and admire this wonderful creation. As you can imagine, it is difficult for young children to appreciate hand crafted beauty, especially little boys, but these eggs where so magnificent it truly got our attention. We would hold the egg in our hands and just stare at it in wonderful admiration. In addition to the eggs beauty we also were appreciating the love that aunt Ana had put in to making this egg for us but most of all, as we sat there admiring the beautiful Easter egg we, even as little children knew we were holding the tradition of the Lithuanian people and of Lithuania in our hands. I so vividly remember holding these special eggs in my small hands and saying to myself – This is Lithuania and I am Lithuanian.

I would please ask you to understand that what I wrote of is not about me and not about the Karnila family. What I wrote about was a Lithuanian family, Lithuanian traditions and Lithuania. For every people, their traditions and customs are not only an important part of their past but also an important part of their future. This is so true of Lithuania. The preservation of beautiful ancient traditions has been one of the things that helped the Lithuanian people remain strong and preserve their identity as a people and a nation through so many adverse situations. Unfortunately, every year some of these traditions tend to slip away one by one. While we still practice some of these traditions many have become just a memory.

I wrote this as an invitation to all our readers to write to us telling us about the beautiful Lithuanian Easter traditions that you remember from years gone by and also tell us of the traditions you, your family, friends and neighbors still practice to this day. It is our hope that in sharing these traditions with all our readers you will be reminded of some wonderful tradition from the past and this Easter and for many Easters to come you will again include these traditions in your Easter celebrations. We would also like to remind you that there are many people of Lithuanian nationality living around the world that are desperately trying to find out more about their heritage and about the culture and traditions of their Lithuanian ancestors. By sharing your traditions with all our readers it is very possible that a person, intensely proud of their Lithuanian ancestry, some where in the world this Easter will for the first time in their lives be able make some Lithuanian Easter traditions a part of their family’s celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

So dear readers, we invite you to please send to us some of the Lithuanian Easter traditions that are or were an important part of your family so that we can share them with Lithuanians around the world.

Su Dieva

Vin / Vincas Karnila

Associate editor

Category : Blog archive

VilNews 2010

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VilNews 2010 

Lithuania New Year 

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850 

 

 

VilNews 2010

Dear VilNews reader,

Let me first of all wish you a Happy New Year! I am very grateful that you have followed VilNews through the past year, and I hope you will not be disappointed when we go online in February 2011, introducing VilNews as an e-magazine with no less than 24 sub-sections and an infinitely greater variety of articles, comments, photos, online booking of hotels and travel,  extensive news archives, etc.

I am very pleased to see the amazingly great support that we have already received from writers and contributors, from around the world. This fact makes me confident that we will establish and continue to develop VilNews’ position as the world's leading English-language e-publication from and about Lithuania!

You are at present one of more than 10.000 weekly readers of VilNews. We hope you will continue to follow us into the new year, and that you continue to recommend VilNews for new  readers. Our goal is to have a readership of minimum 100.000 persons worldwide till the end of 2011!

I am also glad to see that more than 70 writers and contributors for the e-magazine's many sub-sections are now in place. I am convinced that we will all have the great pleasure of  participating  in the various editorial teams, and I look forward with great pleasure to see the results of our intense joint efforts in less than two mnths from now!

The following pages of this latest edition of VilNews in 2010 will be a cavalcade of what has  emerged in VilNews through 2010 - articles, comments, pictures and a big stack of letters to the editor from many of our readers!

I hope the following back issues of VilNews 2010 will be a refresh of good memories for you!

 

 

Kind Regards,

Aage Myhre

VilNews Editor

 

 

 

  

 A cavalcade of VilNews

2010

 

 

 

 

Category : Blog archive

Christmas in Siberia

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CHRISTMAS IN SIBERIA

A Lithuanian family at Lena river, year 1942 

 

“The tents were freezing cold, harsh, and distressing; so, the adults decided to build better living conditions.  "We can build barracks," said one Lithuanian, "We can catch the logs in the Lena River." The men waded barefoot into the icy water, caught floating logs, brought them to shore, and built the barracks. They covered the outside walls with snow and ice which they learned would help keep out the frigid temperature. They also found a large iron stove, which they placed in the middle of the building.”

 

 

Exiled to Siberia

Laima's Story

Text: Leona T. Gustaff

This story was first published in the BRIDGES magazine in 1999.

Leona T. Gustaff is a contributing writer for BRIDGES and lives in Frederick, Maryland, USA.

BRIDGES is monthly publication of LAC (Lithuanian American Community, Inc.). Ten issues a year. /more/

In 1992, my husband and I spent ten months teaching English as a Second Language at the Pedagogical Institute Šiauliai, Lithuania. While there we had the occasion to meet and talk with many returned 'Tremtiniai' (Exiles), who had been forcibly taken to Siberia by the Russian Politboro.

As with one voice each of them proclaimed, "Please tell the world about how we suffered when we were forced to leave our homes and journey to the icy tundra of Siberia." 

Laima Guzevičiutė Uždavinienė is a cousin of my husband. Her father, Stasys Guzevičius, was my husband's father's brother. Her mother was Ona Zubavičiutė Guzevičienė.

Laima narrated the story of her family's unwelcome exile, telling me the hardships, the tragedies, and how they braved all the difficult problems. She was seven years old when the family was rudely interrupted in their morning slumber, and was forced to leave their home within hours. She did not return for fifteen years.

This is her story as she related it to me. I have taken the liberty to add descriptions of different places she lived in during her exile.

The house was warm, secure, peaceful. The window drapes had been closed tight to shut out the rising sun. On June 14th in 1941 we were not aware of the tragedy about to enter our lives. A thick, fluffy comforter covered me and kept me safe. Tėtė and Mama slept quietly in the adjacent room. Algis, my three-year-old brother, was in sound slumber in his trundle bed. Suddenly, at 5 a.m., sharp staccato raps at the entrance of our home aroused us. "Guzevičius, wake up! Let us in! We are the militia!"

Tėtė grabbed his robe and slippers and rushed to the front entrance with my Mama, brother and me running close behind. When he opened the door he encountered two men standing on the steps leading into the house. One was dressed in a Russian military outfit; the second was a friend, Dabulavičius, who lived nearby in the village of Brazavo.

"Labas," Tėtė, startled and not prepared for what was to follow, greeted the men. The military man, a member of the Russian armed forces, grabbed him by the shoulders, pushed him back into the room, swung him around quickly, clasped his hands to his back, and shackled him with metal hand-cuffs. My brother and I were frightened and bewildered. We were sobbing aloud as Mama pulled at the arms of the soldier and begged him to tell her of what my father was guilty.

"Dabulavičius," she pleaded, "Please tell them not to do this. Stasys has never hurt anyone. He is a good man and does not deserve this kind of treatment. He has even lent you a large sum of money recently so that you could build an addition to your home." Dabulavičius stood by silently and turned his head away so that he would not have to look at my mother.

"Tylėk!" The soldier, pushing Mama aside, ordered her to be silent. "Pack whatever you think the entire family will need for a long journey. Your baggage must be less than 120 kilograms."

The Times

At that time the Soviet Union was in total control of Lithuania. Russian military leaders were aware that 175 divisions of the Third Reich's Wermacht were advancing toward the Soviet Union 's western frontier. The soldiers would have to travel through Lithuania.

There had been rumors that Bolshevik militia was gathering educated Lithuanian men and army leaders to incarcerate them in prison or exile them to a foreign land. In order to receive gifts from the military or, in some instances, to save their own lives, neighbors had been approaching the Soviet officers and volunteering evidence of conversations that they had witnessed of discontent with the political regime in power. These were generally trumped up falsehoods. Tėtė then realized that his friend had conjured up treacherous untrue charges about him.

Only eight days later, on June 22, the Germans attacked the Soviet Union forcing the Red Army to withdraw from Lithuania. Unfortunately, we were already on a desperate journey to an unknown destination.

Tėtė, my father, was a teacher in the Kalvarijas district. He was born in 1894 in Suvalkija, not far from the town of Punskas, the third in a family of eighteen children, nine of whom were either still born or died soon after birth. He had attended Primary and Secondary schools in Lithuania, received his university education in Russia and returned to Lithuania to teach in Kalvarija. He spoke six languages -- Polish, German, Russian, French, Jewish, Lithuanian -- was the owner of an extensive library with thousands of books, and had founded and promoted new elementary schools in the Marijampolė district.

Active in the community, a leader in the Kalvarija area, he had organized and taught both children and teenagers many different traditional dances. He enjoyed farming, fertilizing the land, and planting seeds to grow potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. He also propagated apple trees. He never imbibed liquor, despised alcoholics, and launched programs against alcoholism.

Tėtė was 33 years old when he married my mother, who was only seventeen years of age. But Mama possessed great physical strength, loved to read, and had lively intelligent conversations with him. She and Tėtė together had purchased a home in Trakėnai from a German nationalist who was returning to his country.

Trakėnai is located about five kilometers south of Kalvarija. It initially had been a large German estate, but eventually was divided into small parcels of land for German families. They bought the property, which consisted of a home and barn with land for farming. Each month they sent a sum of money to the original proprietor, who according to country laws, was the true owner until the entire amount of the sale was paid.

The Beginning of the Journey

Mama quickly gathered warm clothing and made small bundles for my brother and me to carry. She snatched the feather comforters from the beds and collected coats, sweaters, socks, and boots. She packed potatoes, cheese, sugar and flour, which she and my father carried. Soon, a truck filled with other Lithuanian families roared to a stop in front of our home. Mama, Tėtė, Algis, and I climbed into the back of the vehicle and searched for an area to put our hurriedly collected bags. My parents held us tight and comforted us as they wiped away our tears. The truck continued on its route until we reached Kalvarijos Railroad Station.

When we arrived at the station we were surprised to see a large group of people who also carried bundles of hastily collected clothing, food, and bedding. There was noise and considerable agitation. Children cried, sobbing aloud. People talked incessantly, looked for friends, made sure certain family members were not separated, and asked each other if they knew where they were going. Everyone was frightened. No one knew the answers.

Tėtė met a friend. "Ulevičius, what is happening here?"

"I'm not sure, but haven't you heard the rumors?"

"That educated Lithuanian men would be put into prison or exiled to Siberia? Yes, I had heard but it is difficult to believe that Communists would be so cruel."

"Speak softly, my friend, so as not to be overheard. We must be careful. We cannot trust anyone."

We were pushed into straight lines and commandeered into freight cars -- actually into cattle cars -- that formerly had carried farm animals from the villages to the cities. People were jammed together. Soldiers shoved more men, women, and children into already overcrowded cars. Everyone looked for an area on the floor where they could put their belongings and perhaps sit down. My parents found a small spot where we could huddle together and keep our bundles of clothing and blankets close to us.

The Train of Horrors

The train began to move slowly and then picked up speed. Trapped in boxes with boarded up windows we moved through our beloved nation quickly. We could only imagine the clear natural lakes, boggy swamps, small working farms, and forests of birch, pine, and spruce trees that we passed. I don't believe any of us realized that this would be our last journey through the Lithuanian countryside for many years. How could we possibly know that some of us would never see this land again but would die and be buried in strange, inhospitable territory where we would suffer bitter cold, hunger, and absence of the ordinary needs and comforts of our existence?

We were thirsty when we made our first stop at Kaunas. Crying children begged for something to drink. "Look, they're bringing water," a woman on the train shouted. She had noticed a soldier carrying a pail of water and walking towards our train. Everyone rushed to the door that was a little ajar.

Mama reached out to take the pail of precious water from the soldier but he, fearing she wished to escape, angrily banged shut the door, which hit her on the head and knocked her down. She fell to the hard floor into a dead faint. "She did not awaken from this unconscious state for the next five hours." my father told me years later. Until the end of her life she had very painful headaches.

From Kaunas the train began to move slowly towards the Russian border where for the first time we were given food: watery gruel and a small piece of black bread. Traveling in a daze suspended by time, we learned we were on the Trans-Siberian railway and feared we were on the way to Siberia.

Years later Onutė Garbštienė, who was also deported in 1941, published her diary, which described some of the difficulties we had encountered:

" Suddenly the hammering of axes echoed down the length of the train. We shuddered as if hit by a charge of electricity! They were boarding up the windows, so the "wild beasts" wouldn't escape from their cages. Some other people climbed inside. They made holes in the walls, to the outside, and also cut a hole in the floor, for our toilet. Everything was so degrading, horrifying, and shameful. Who has ever heard that men and women, crowded into this single area, had to take care of their personal needs in front of each other!

We got used to the shame but not to the stench. The stench was unbearable because many, especially the children, were suffering from diarrhea caused by drinking contaminated water. Not everyone was able to make it directly into the hole. Soon the edges became encrusted with excrement. We couldn't even sit down. We started using a chamber pot, but the stench was even worse. Later we begged and were given permission to take care of this matter wherever we stopped. All shame evaporated! Everyone would squat under the cars and relieve themselves. Constipation was a problem. Suddenly: "Hurry up! Get back inside!" Everyone would run back to their assigned cars with their clothing in disarray! And this went on for the duration of the trip."

Our journey lasted three weeks. Parents were exhausted. Children were tired, moody, and restless. Everyone slept on whatever makeshift accommodation they could make on the floor. Some slept on their baggage. Some were fortunate to have blankets or feather comforters. The daily ration of watery gruel and small slice of rye bread was not enough to satisfy hunger, and many were ill. The perilous trip posed severe difficulty for infants and some died in their grieving mother's arms. Soviet guards tossed them into the woods without benefit of a burial.

The First Stop

Eventually we reached the Altay, a sparsely populated mountainous territory in South Siberia, close to Northwest Mongolia, China, and Northeast Kazakhstan. About three times the size of Lithuania, it contains a dense pine forest, which extends into the Altay Mountains. We lived there for the entire winter.

Mama and Tėtė were forced to walk about five kilometers through dark forests to the trees they were ordered to cut. The soles of their boots were worn through, and they covered their feet with rags to help them suffer the ice, twigs, and other debris they walked through on their tortuous journeys. Tėtė was not accustomed to such labor, and each evening his body was filled with pain; his fingers so frozen that he could not bend them. He longed for his library of books. Newspapers, journals, or written materials of any kind did not exist among these people. The only news we received was by word of mouth -- sometimes hopeful, sometimes sad, but always difficult to believe since the source was unknown. We were still fed only bread and watery soup.

We Move On

In 1942, at the first signs of summer, we were gathered into trucks and transported to the Lena River, where we were forced to clamber into large barges, heavy wired cages that had been built to transport prisoners. Armed guards patrolled us constantly.

The adults again began to wonder where we were going. "Perhaps we are going to America," said Mr. Abramaičius, the father of a family we had befriended while living in Altay. We were not taken to America but instead, we entered a hellish situation; recollections of which sicken our hearts and spirits and we don't want to remember.

Slowly we sailed down the Lena River. We passed 'taiga' -- forests of pine, larch, spruce, and birch. We fought legions of biting insects, mosquitoes, and gnats. At times we caught sight of reindeer. "Those woods must be full of mushrooms," Abramaičius mentioned to my father. The thought of this delicacy that flourished in the birch woods in our native land brought a sense of sorrow and longing.

We traveled until we reached Trofimovska, a fishing village on the river near the Arctic ocean, not far from the Laptev Sea. We settled in the town of Tiksi. The adults were ordered to pitch tents, the only shelter available. Winter temperature dipped down to minus 40 degree F; summers seldom reached plus 50 degree F. Our bodies were not conditioned to live in severely cold climate.

We were fortunate that Mama had taken feather comforters so that we were able to weather the cold somewhat. Others did not even have blankets. Many became ill and quite a few passed away from malnutrition and the frigid environment. Entire families died. The dead were interred in the unfriendly foreign soil. We hoped that someday their bodies might be returned to their beloved Lithuania.

Daily Life Continues

The tents were freezing cold, harsh, and distressing; so, the adults decided to build better living conditions. "We can build barracks," said one Lithuanian, "We can catch the logs in the Lena River." The men waded barefoot into the icy water, caught floating logs, brought them to shore, and built the barracks. They covered the outside walls with snow and ice which they learned would help keep out the frigid temperature. They also found a large iron stove, which they placed in the middle of the building.

About 10 or 15 families moved with us into the barracks, but we were not destined to be comfortable very long. Soon, we were attacked by a common enemy found all over the world -- lice! We found them everywhere -- in our beds, on the floors, in our clothing. They attacked our hands, our faces, and our legs. We found them in our hair and all over our bodies. No one was safe from the lice. In Trofimovska there was nothing available to help us get rid of them. We had to kill them with our own hands.

The only food available was fish from the frozen Lena River. Mama and Tėtė organized a group of Lithuanians into a fishing brigade. After drilling a few holes in the ice, they'd put bait on lines, which they lowered into the openings. They sat for hours waiting for signs that fish had snatched the bait, and we had more substantial food to add to our meager supply of bread.

During the second winter in Trofimovska, weak from hunger, I was not able to walk, and I lay in bed for two months. My brother Algis was also in poor health. His teeth began to decay. More Lithuanians died from the hunger and cold. I don't know how we were saved from death.

I remember that Mama sold her wrist watch to a Jakutian native for 30 kilos of black rye flour. She made 'lepioskas', and as we ate the mealy pancake we became stronger. Sometimes Tėtė still caught some fish, but eventually the Russian brigadier leader did not permit him to bring the fish home. This was our most difficult winter. We never had enough to eat, and we were always cold.

Uprooted Again

In the spring, we were taken to the Siberian Islands to fish for the Communist regime. At first we lived together with the Abramaičius family in a 'yurta', a collapsible shelter built from logs and canvas. The next year Tėtė and I built a 'yurta' for our family to live in separately and alone.

Tėtė began to barter the fish he caught for flour, and mama continued to make 'lepioskas'. Tėtė and Mama fished every day but they caught very few fish. Tėtė's health was failing, and he got tired very quickly. He had been diagnosed with a hernia in Lithuania. Since he was unaccustomed to the rigors of this difficult life, he suffered more intensely each day.

We lived on the islands for two years when suddenly we noticed that the Jakutian native brigades were leaving the area. Fish were also disappearing; they swam elsewhere. The Jakutians had the inner sense to know when the fish would leave the islands, and they followed the fish to their new destination.

The Lithuanians also began to look for ways to leave the islands. Widows with children were given permission by the Communists to go to Jakutsk, a major city almost a thousand miles south on the Lena River. Tėtė and Mama decided to travel to the Baluno region and settle in the village of Tit-Ary. We were still not far from the Laptev Sea. Tėtė spoke Russian very well, and he was fortunate to receive employment as a school manager in Tit-Ary. Native teachers taught writing poorly, and he helped many students formulate good notebooks. For the first time in our exile to Siberia I could go to school. I was so happy that I finished two years of classes in one year.

We Say Goodbye

In 1945, we heard that the war had ended. Tėtė wrote a letter to his brother, Joseph, who had emigrated many years earlier to America and lived in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. He was delivering it to the post office when he was accosted and beaten severely by Communist Commandos who resented the fact that he had a brother in the United States. Tėtė became seriously ill. He needed major surgery but the only medical assistance available to the exiles was an apprentice to a veterinarian.

We made plans to search for a surgeon. Tėtė and I boarded a barge that was returning to Jakutsk after unloading food and other provisions. We sailed up the Lena River to our destination. The journey lasted one week. Since Tėtė was a Lithuanian 'tremtinys' (exile), he didn't have the necessary papers for permission to enter. When we arrived at Jakutsk, we were too frightened to go into the city. We were forced to return to Tit-Ary without the benefit of seeing a skilled physician.

Tėtė's health became weaker each day. The medication given to him by the veterinarian's assistant would not relieve the pain. His concern that he was not strong enough to gather provisions for his family hastened the end of his life. Mama was devastated. Each day they conversed and planned about where she would go should his life be terminated. Although his health had deteriorated, he was a comfort to us and we looked to him for moral support. He died in Tit-Ary in 1948 and was interred there in the deep icy tundra. He was fifty four years old.

We Escape

After the death of my father, Mama, Algis, and I escaped to Jakutsk, as my parents had planned. Seven years previous, when I had been seven years of age, we had been forced by the Communists to leave our comfortable home in Lithuania and travel to Siberia -- seven difficult, miserable, unhappy years for which we questioned the unfortunate circumstances which propelled us into this strange life.

We reached the city of Jakutsk and were compelled to register our arrival. The general was not inclined to let us stay, and he told Mama, "If you do not find a job within seven days you must return to Tit-Ary."

Jakutsk is the capital and major city of the Jakutia region. Similar to a large Soviet city, it had many schools, the Luovo Cooperative Institute, a theater, and industry that had developed during the war. Its great distance from Moscow gave it the ability to make crucial weapons and military supplies far from the impact of bombs and other artillery. The weather is the coldest in the world, and buildings are built on piles driven into the permafrost. In 1948 the majority of the population was Russian, many of which were exiles, including some from East European countries.

We searched and found Lithuanian exiles who had settled in Jakutsk earlier. Willing to help us, they informed Mama about a manager at a glass factory who would hire her. Shortly after mama began to work in the factory, I was also given employment in the same building.

I wanted to continue my education; so, I returned to school and finished the Tenth Form at the Middle School after completing two grades in one year. We learned to speak Russian in school and on the streets, but we always spoke Lithuanian in our home.

I loved to sing and wished to study music but I couldn't get a piano; so, I entered the Jakutsk Technical Cooperative School and studied accounting. I was a good student and worked diligently. The administration advised me that I was one of two graduates with the highest scholastic marks, and I would receive a scholarship to Luovo Cooperative Institute. But Communist Security Officials informed me that I could not take advantage of the education given at the Institute. The honor was not available to Lithuanian exiles.

Hoping to See Lithuania

In 1953, Stalin died and the Communists began to slowly allow children and teachers to return to Lithuania, but I was ordered to work as a bookkeeper in the city of Jakutsk. After two years I was awarded a vacation and permission to travel to Lithuania.

I wrote to my father's brother, Pranas, who resided in Kaunas to tell him the good news. My Uncle Pranas was a respected Chemical Engineer who had been incarcerated in jail by the Communists for two years but never had to leave for Siberia. He invited me to stay with him and sent me the money I needed for the journey.

In 1956 I was in Kaunas. I traveled on the same Trans-Siberian Railway route I had taken from Lithuania to Siberia fifteen years ago. But this time I saw the clear natural lakes, boggy swamps, small working farms, and forests of birch, pine, and spruce trees that I could only imagine on my first and only trip from the country of my birthplace. I cannot begin to explain the immense joy and pain I felt; joy that I lived to enter Lithuania again and pain that my father would never return to see his homestead, his apple trees, or the schools where he taught.

If Tėtė were with me, he would not have recognized his beloved Lithuania. The ruling Soviet party dictated and controlled all public and private actions in the land. Politics, the radio, accounting, education were conducted in Russian. In the schools the Russian language was predominant. No Lithuanian was heard on the radio. Religious education was forbidden, and free expression of our native tongue, songs, and holiday celebrations was not allowed. Lithuanians worked within the Communist system in order to survive.

The family home in Trakėnai had been leveled and rebuilt twice. Tėtė had given his important documents to his brother Pranas to retain in his possession when we were forcefully sent to Siberia. Unfortunately, Pranas’ home was also damaged during the war and all papers had been burned or destroyed. I wondered what would happen with our house and land. Strangers had taken residency there.

Still, I preferred to remain in Lithuania. I didn’t want to return to Siberia, but my documents were only for a three-month sojourn. It was a difficult and terrifying time. A friend suggested that I lose my pass but I was afraid.

I was fortunate. Uncle Pranas' wife's sister was married to a Russian General, and she urged him to petition the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in Lithuania, Justas Paleckis, to give me leave to stay in my country.

All the documents had to be issued in Vilnius; so, I traveled there to stay with the General. He felt sorry for me, and indicated that he himself would go to Moscow to get permission for me to remain in Lithuania if Justas Paleckis refused. To my joy, I was awarded an extension of my vacation for one entire year.

At the end of the year I was allowed to remain in Lithuania, but I was asked to leave Vilnius. I didn't leave Vilnius and concealed my residency by omitting to register my presence. Kipras Petrauskas, a renowned composer of music with important influential friends, admitted me into his home. I resided with his family and was warned to hide when men of the militia came to visit.

Eventually, after some time, I ventured into the market place and found work as an accountant in a ‘prekyba’ (business shop). Gradually I began to work with other 'prekybas' and after thirty-six years I was the accountant for all the ‘prekybas’ in Vilnius.

A Family Reunited

Three years after I had returned to Lithuania, I saved enough rubles to send for my mother. She traveled on the same Trans-Siberian railway that had taken us to Siberia. Her delight in her return to her native land was the ability to buy fresh fruits and vegetables that were difficult to purchase in the tundra. Since she learned to speak Russian in the country of her exile, she had no difficulty communicating with the language demanded by the Communist regime. But we still spoke Lithuanian in our home.

Three years later my mother and I welcomed my brother to Lithuania. We all recognized that it was not the same country we had been forced to leave many years earlier. But we were in the land of our birth, the land of our ancestors. We were home among friends and relatives.

 

Siberian Deportees to See Justice in the Courts 

For the first time in Lithuania, investigation leading to criminal cases regarding mass deportations of people during World War II and later has begun. The Rokiškis district prosecutor's office finished their investigation of Ignas Pauliukas, who is charged with co-operation with repressive bodies of Soviet power and carrying out deportations of Lithuania's citizens.

Pauliukas, former chairman of Ziboliai rural neighborhood in Rokiškis county, is accused of having deported the family of Pranas Laužadis on June 14, 1941. Pauliukas is also charged with backing genocide actions.

The Pauliukas case was handed over to Panevėžys district court during early June 1999.

Category : Blog archive

Christmas bazaar!

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CHRISTMAS BAZAAR!

Saturday 4 December in the Old City Hall (Rotušė), Vilnius 

 

 

Mark your calendar. Saturday the 4th of December is the day when the entire international community in Vilnius will meet  in the Old City Hall (Rotušė) to show their good support for those who so dearly need our help and attention. The Bazaar will be open 11-16, and there will be a lot to experience, so please take your time and enjoy the warm pre-Christmas mood!

 

 

Get ready to open your wallet, a new Christmas

Charity Bazaar is just around the corner!

Text: Giedre Gabriele Paliusyte

Photo: Irina Tuminiene

 

Mark your calendar. Saturday the 4th of December is the day when the entire international community in Vilnius will meet in the Old City Hall (Rotušė) to show their good support for those who so dearly need our help and attention. The Bazaar will be open 11-16, and there will be a lot to experience, so please take your time and enjoy the warm pre-Christmas mood!

The International Women’s Association of Vilnius (IWAV) has been organizing charitable events in Lithuania for more than ten years. The association that brings together wives of the ambassadors and businessmen that are currently residing in Lithuania and women members from Lithuania, are busy preparing for its annual Christmas Charity Bazaar.

On the 9th of November the upcoming annual Christmas Charity Bazaar was presented at a reception held at the Greek embassy. Representatives from the embassies of Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Japan, China and Germany presented their customs, traditional dishes, handmade Christmas souvenirs and were promising more surprises during the fair.

Residents and visitors of Vilnius for a symbolic entrance fee of 3 litas will have a unique opportunity to discover the Christmas traditions of different countries, to buy interesting Christmas gifts, to enjoy food, handicraft, souvenirs and share the festive mood. The Christmas Bazaar is expanding, and more countries are participating every year - this year more than thirty countries including Lithuania will be represented at the fair. Four international schools: Vilnius international school, American international school of Vilnius, French Secondary School of Vilnius and Polish International School ‘Mažasis Princas’ will also present their Christmas stands.

The main purpose of the event is to collect money for charity and support organizations in need. This year all the proceeds of the occasion collected from the lotteries and sales will be fully donated to the Kaunas University of Medicine Hospital’s Pediatric clinic, to the Residential house of Vilnius for children and young people, to the "Ekklesia" charity foundation, to the Vilnius University Children Hospital, to the "Kijėlių" Special Education Center, to the" Alanta" nursing home for elderly people and to the Children and Youth Day Center "Mūsų nameliai".

Alma Adamkienė continues to be the patron of the Christmas Charity Bazaar. This year Lithuanian actress Gabija Ryškuvienė is a goodwill ambassador.

 

Programme of the International Christmas Charity Bazaar 2010

09.30 – official opening ceremony with the patron of the Bazaar, Ms. Alma Adamkienė

11.00 – opening of the International Christmas Charity Bazaar for residents and guests of Vilnius

15.00 – lottery ceremony

16.00 – closing ceremony of the International Christmas Charity Bazaar 2010

 

Category : Blog archive

Crime and decay

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Small towns in today’s Lithuania:

CRIME AND DECAY

 

http://www.lithuaniatribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Crime-Scene.-prev.jpg

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/victor/hereandthere/Images/2009-07-07%20Pasvalys-85.jpg

 

Lietuvos Kriminaline Policija.jpg

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

Text: Aage Myhre, VilNews Editor

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.

Apdovanoti herojais tapę policininkai

"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 : Blog archive

All saints day

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1st OF NOVEMBER IS

 

ALL SAINTS’ DAY

 

 

All Saints’ Day in Lithuania is one

of the most solemn of holidays 

November 1st, people of the Christian Faith all over the world celebrate All Saints’ Day. In Lithuania it is one of the most solemn of holidays. This day is set aside as a day to honor the souls of family members that have passed away as well as remembering the Saints of the Catholic Church.

While in modern times, this day involves visits to cemeteries to decorate graves, attending Church and get togethers with family, the meaning of this day and some of its traditions go back to ancient times and it is interesting to see how some of these ancient traditions have intertwined with the traditions of the Christian Faith in Lithuania today. To this day, you will still hear most Lithuanians refer to All Saints’ Day as “Vėlinės” which was a holiday going back to pagan times that celebrated the souls of dead ancestors with feasts and special rituals. History is not exactly clear about this but it is known that the feasting and rituals did not take place on one specific day but rather continued over the course of a number of weeks. In ancient writings this ritual is called " Ilgės" - pangs of love or longings. The name comes from the fact that this ritual went on for a long time - long ritual. In Eastern Lithuania, this ritual was called " Dziedu" days, old men's days. This name was related to beggars who were asked to pray for the souls of the dead.

The ritual traditions of the dead were and still are today directly related to peoples' belief that on this day the souls of the dead return to earth to Churches, cemeteries or their homes. The most ancient belief is that they returned to their homes. Therefore the souls of the dead were and still are graciously received and treated according to rituals of our ancestors. In the 1500s some of the practices began to change to more of what is common these days. Now it became common for people to gather in cemeteries, where people would pray for the deceased and comment to each other about all the good qualities of the departed person. Afterwards a bountiful supper would be prepared for all to enjoy. Now when it is said “for all to enjoy” it is meant ALL – including the departed. This is based on the belief that “the soul of the dead cannot rest if the table is not set”. In the Žemaitija region of Lithuania there is this traditional prayer that is given by the father of the house. 

“Dear souls of the dead, you are still remembered by the members of my family, you are most worthy of our perpetual remembrance, especially you, my grandparents, my parents, also our relatives, children and everyone whom death took away from our home. I invite you to this annual feast. We wish that this feast is agreeable to you, just like memory of all of you, is to us”

After a short silence, the father asks everyone to sit at the table and the food is eaten in silence.

Another practice was that on the eve of All Saints’ Day tables would be set with food in the evening, in rooms with doors and windows ajar to allow the souls of the dead, easy entry. Also, soft beds were prepared with white bed linen for the anticipated guests. Blessed candles were then placed and lit on either side of the pillow and the family knelt near the bed awaiting the arrival of the soul of their dead family member. If they heard cracking in ceilings or floors, this meant that the dead souls had arrived. 

Even as late as the early 1900s, in some parts of Lithuania, an assortment of food was brought to cemeteries and left there. Upon returning home from the cemetery a dinner of seven different foods of meat, grains and eggs was prepared and the table was set in a room with windows and doors open wide to allow the souls to enter as it was believed that the souls of the dead partook of the meal together with the living members. No one sat at the corner of the table as this spot was reserved for the souls of the departed. An assortment of food was also placed on that corner of the table and then everyone began to eat.

In Lithuania, the belief that souls of the dead come for a visit during All Saints’ Day has lasted to this day. The traditions of honoring the dead that are practiced today began in the mid 1800s. The most common practices are joint visits to cemeteries, decorating of graves, lighting of candles and prayers. So Monday 1 November I will do what millions of Lithuanians will do around the world - honor my ancestors. The day will start by me driving around to different homes in Vilnius to pick up some of my relatives that no longer drive. We will make the forty five minute drive from Vilnius to Guronys which is the ancestral home of my grandfather’s family Karnila and my grandmother’s family Petkevičius. As always, we will go to the two “old cemeteries” first. Here will be the meeting point for other members of the family since on this day, the same as with so many Lithuanian families, we have family members from near and far traveling to our ancestral home.

The oldest of the two “old cemeteries” in Guronys is where my great grand father Vincentas and my great grandmother Kristina are buried. I actually go to this cemetery quite often in the course of a year’s time. When ever I am driving through the area I’ll stop by for “a visit”. I think you can understand that it gives me a very warm feeling inside to be at the final resting place of my ancestors especially when I can look three hundred meters away and see the spot where their house once stood. I don’t mind telling you though that when I “visit” Vincentas and Kristina on All Saints’ Day there is very much a different feeling. On this day, you get this very strong feeling that they are there with you and they can feel your feelings and hear your thoughts. Now I’m sure that among our dear readers there are those in the scientific and medical fields that could very aptly explain these feelings. Sincerely I can tell you that I would like hear these explanations. Please don’t be offended though when I ask that on this day, All Saints’ Day, don’t give me the scientific explanation for these feelings. On this day I’m having too much fun “visiting” with my ancestors.

From one cemetery to another and another, candles will be lit, prayers will be given, gravesites will be decorated and at the grave of each person we will stand and talk about their fine qualities and the things they accomplished in their life, the same as has been done for hundreds and hundreds of years. The visits to one cemetery to another is not only for the members of the Karnila and Petkevičius families. This also includes visiting the graves of the wive‘s and husband‘s families as well so all and all it‘s an all day affair.

 

Once we have visited and paid our respects to all the departed most of the group, this is usually six to eight carloads of people, will gather at the home of one of the families that live near by. Here we will go inside and socialise and enjoy a wonderful meal. Of course, it goes with out saying

that at one corner of the table a place will be set with a plate, silver ware and drinking glass and no one will begin eating until food has been placed on and near this plate and drink has been poured into the glass. After all, this day is for our ancestors and it would be impolite to start eating before they are served at the table.

The drive home is very pleasant. There is much conversation about the family. Its history, notable events, hardships that were borne, accomplishments and joyous occasions.  During the drive home you also behold a very glorious sight. The sun has set, it is dark and all along the way you drive by cemetery after cemetery that are all aglow with the candles placed their by the cemetery’s inhabitant’s loved ones. This is truly a magnificent and heart warming sight to experience. Probably the most pleasant experience of the drive home is the feeling you have inside you. You have spent the day with family. Not just the family members that had traveled from near and far to pay their respects, but you have spent the day with your ancestors and departed loved ones. I think you would all agree that to spend the day with your ancestors is always a wonderful experience and one which leaves you with a warm feeling in your heart.

 

Su pagarbe

Vincas Karnila

 

The origins of All Saints’ Day go back to ancient times as do also some of the beliefs. While some would say that these “beliefs” are basically superstitions, to this day there are many people that still believe in many of them. I thought you may find interesting some of the beliefs that are held by some people in Lithuania to this day. While one may believe none of them, another in only a few another person may believe in many.


The beliefs of All Saints' Day are:

1- On the day of All Saints, the souls of the dead come to visit the living, asking that the living pray for them. 
2 - Before All Saints' Day, a homemaker will sweep the house and sprinkle the floors with sand. In the morning, if she sees the floor covered with small footprints, but there are no small children in the house she would believe that souls of dead children had come into the house.
3 - If  a mother goes to the cemetery at midnight on All Saints' Day, she will see her dead children.
4 - On All Saints' Day, churches are filled with souls of the dead. That day, the souls are not burning in hell. They are happy. However some souls, whose mothers are wailing, arrive wet, soaked by earthly tears. Moral of the story - No need to cry for the dead.
5 - On the Eve of All Saints' Day, one does not go visiting or walking through villages because all roads and the country side are filled with souls of the dead. There can also be some mean souls.
6 - On All Saints' Day and in the evening no ashes or garbage should be taken out because the souls can be witched by these items.
7 - If it rains on the night of All Saints' Day, there will be numerous deaths the following year.
8 - If the sun does not shine on All Saints' Day, the following year will be filled with misfortunes.
9 - If on All Saints' Day, trees are still fully covered with leaves, it will be a year of black death.
10 - If a child is born on the eve of All Saints' Day, when in life they attend a funeral meal, they will see evil souls.

All-Saints.jpg

Category : Blog archive

VIC, VilNews, Bukime kartu

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NEW BOARDS, NEW STRUCTURES:

 

VIC, VILNEWS AND

 

BŪKIME KARTU

 

Dear VilNews readers,

As many of you know, I've been both chairman and president of Vilnius International Club since the club was started nine years ago. I have also been the executive responsible for our annual charity event for orphanage children, BUKIME KARTU, and I have been, and still am the editor of VilNews.

Understandably, this work has taken much of my time, and although I have very much appreciated the many good experiences and new acquaintance I have got through all this, I have concluded that it now is time to distribute these tasks among several of the many who have been active supporters over the years.

I invited on this background to a meeting, and on the 16th of September we were about 40 people who met in restaurant Sue's Indian Raja here in Vilnius in order to decide on further structuring of operations and new activities for the club, the help programme, and the e-magazine.

It became a wonderfully warm and positive meeting, with the same good old atmosphere and ambience that has always characterized VIC, and I was very pleased seeing that all my suggestions for new boards, board chairmen, members, and executive managers were adopted by the enthusiastic audience!

The names of those who kindly agreed to assume the positions are given below. I wish them all good luck, and I am convinced that 16 September 2010 will always be remembered as a big step forward in our work for international Lithuania. Let me also remind you all about the VIC's mission statement, which we have based our work on since the club was founded in 2001:

 

 

***************************** VIC Mission Statement ****************************

 

The Vilnius International Club (VIC) supports and encourages the

 

cultural, historic, and economic vitality of Vilnius as a capital city.

 

Men and women from the expatriate and Lithuanian communities,

 

working in diplomatic, business, and cultural spheres, fulfil VIC’s

 

mission through fellowship, monthly meetings, and occasional

 

charitable programmes.

******************************************************************************************

 

My warmest regards to you all !

Yours truly,

Aage Myhre

 

 

 

VIC

VILNIUS INTERNATIONAL CLUB

 BŪKIME 

KARTU

 

 

VilNews

 

Chairmen

ROBERT JENNINGS (Ireland)

Consultant, EU Advisor

TORBEN PEDERSEN (Denmark)

Fmr. Senior Partner, DELOITTE

AAGE MYHRE (Norway)

VilNews Editor

 

Deputy Chairmen

RAJ CHAUDHARY (India)

Restaurant owner, Honorary Consul of India to Lithuania

STEVEN STAHAROS (USA)

Export Manager, Rokiskio Suris

VIRGINIJUS KUNDROTAS (Lithuania)

Dean Adizes Graduate School

 

Executive Directors

ZILVINAS BELIAUSKAS (Lithuania)

Psychologist

CARLOS BREBBIA (Argentina)

Coach/Lecturer at TTVAM

VIN KARNILA (US-LT)

VilNews Associate Editor

Members

JOEP WIJNANDS (Holland)

Ambassador of the Netherlands

ANGELE CEPENAITE (Lith.)

President, LT Committee of ICSW

NATHAN GREENHALG (USA)

News Editor

LYRA JAKULEVICIENE (Lithuania)

Head of Office, UNDP Lithuania

IRMA RAMASKAITE (Lithuania)

Business developer, UAB Medisana

VLADAS LASAS (Lithuania)

Gen. Dir., UPS

ULF HALLAN (Norway)

President, European Leadership Inst.

ARTHUR SIMONSEN (Norway)

Property Developer

LORETA HORNALL (LT-US)

Artist

DAVID TELKY (United Kingdom)

Man. Dir., Pentland Scotland/Baltic

ANDRIUS KONCIUS (Lithuania)

Gen. Dir., COWI LITHUANIA

REGINA RUDYTE (Lithuania)

Professor, Vilnius University

PETRAS AUSTREVICIUS (Lithuania)

Member of Parliament

VILIJA TURIENE (Lithuania)

Director, Invia Travel Agency

SAULIUS RACEVICIUS (Lithuania)

Gen. Dir., ICS

AUDRIUS SAKALAUSKAS (Lithuania)

Advisor to the Mayor of Vilnius

STEPHEN E. TIMMONS (USA)

Bilateral Affairs Officer,

US Embassy

LINA SAVRANSKYTE (Lithuania)

Journalist/Interior Designer

Below some short information about the three legs of VIC, as well as pictures of the new three top leaders for our upcoming activities.

 

VIC

VILNIUS INTERNATIONAL CLUB

 

 

A dynamic meeting point for local

 

people with international interests

 

and for expatriates from many

 

countries

 

 

 

ROBERT JENNINGS (Ireland)

Consultant,

EU Advisor

 

 

RAJ CHAUDHARY (India)

Restaurant owner, Honorary Consul of India to Lithuania

 

Zilvinas Beliauskas

 

ZILVINAS BELIAUSKAS (Lithuania)

Psychologist

Vilnius International Club (VIC) has sine 2001 been a leading club and a dynamic meeting point for local people with international interests and for expatriates from more than 50 countries. The club’s mission is to support and encourage the cultural, historic, and economic vitality of Vilnius as a capital city and of Lithuania as an outstanding historic and contemporary scene for interaction and constructive activities between fine people from many countries. Men and women from the expatriate and Lithuanian communities, working in diplomatic, business, and cultural spheres, fulfil VIC’s mission through fellowship, monthly meetings, and occasional charitable programmes. More than 1.000 persons are today registered at the VIC e-mailing list.

 

 

BŪKIME KARTU

 

 

Do unto others…

 

 

 

TORBEN PEDERSEN (Denmark)

Fmr. Senior Partner, DELOITTE

 

 

STEVEN STAHAROS (USA)

Export Manager, Rokiskio Suris

 

 

CARLOS BREBBIA (Argentina)

Coach/Lecturer at TTVAM

The concept of ‘BŪKIME KARTU’ is that disadvantaged children from various Lithuanian orphanages are invited to spend a full day in the countryside, en­joying various activities sponsored by a number of international companies, institutions and embassies. Joy and happiness are the hallmarks of the day!  

 

“This event is not just about helping the orphanages.

The idea is to give a more important thing to the children – personal attention and care.”

Ambassador of Great Britain to Lithuania, Mr. Simon Butt

 

VilNews

 

  

Connecting Lithuania- related people around the globe, giving them a say

 

 

 

AAGE MYHRE (Norway)

VilNews Editor

 

 

VIRGINIJUS KUNDROTAS (Lithuania)

Dean Adizes Graduate School

 

 

VIN KARNILA

(US-Lithuanian)

VilNews Associate Editor

 

 

'Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,' said President Kennedy in his inaugural address in 1961. Such a speech should also President Grybauskaitė make, but first she should proclaim that Lithuania’s leaders will be the ones taking the first step; showing the good example, cleaning the ‘Lithuanian House’ and start demonstrating that they are ready to do their very best for Lithuanians around the globe.

 

 

Our contribution to renewed optimism, bridge building and constructive criticism of the negligent sins that still characterize this nation, is the publication you are now reading.  Our goal is that VilNews shall be developed as a permanent web page with the aim of better linking Lithuanian groups in every corner of the globe to each other and their home country Lithuania. 

 

 

Category : Blog archive

Incredible India

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Text and photos: Aage Myhre

 

 

 

 

A rickety old bus runs past me in a busy, polluted Mumbai street. Suddenly I see a little girl's face in one

 

of the bus windows. The contrast between the old bus and the beautiful child is striking. We are in India!

 

 

 

Text and photos: Aage Myhre

 

 

 

A COUNTRY OF CONTRASTS

 

India's development over the past 20 years has been unprecedented positive and impressive, and I will in this issue of VilNews tell you a few things about what this development has consisted of.

 

I will also investigate the allegations I have heard that Sanskrit and Lithuanian languages, for some strange reason have much in common. 

 

But first and foremost, I'll take you on a journey to a land without parallel in our world, and I will introduce you to some truly remarkable individuals!

 

India has been described as a “Rich country where poor people live.” The last few years have seen incredible growth in the Indian economy that from 2000 to 2005 grew from $460.2 Billion to $906.3 Billion, making it the second fastest growing economy in the world after China. The world’s largest democracy, India is making huge investment in infrastructure and technology, which was evident while I visited the country’s two largest cities, Mumbai and Delhi.


The man who sits here on the sidewalk in the giant city of Mumbai with his small child sleeping undisturbed on his lap and his crutches standing next to them makes an impression on me. But even if poverty in India is very visible and obvious, my main impression is that this is a country first and foremost characterized by warmth, kindness, hospitality and tranquillity. The eyes of the poor man on the sidewalk are not characterized by a demanding look; that I should give him money. Instead they tell the story of inner peace and contentment in spite of the situation he lives under.

 

MADHUR ROY waits for me at the Delhi International Airport when I fly in from Mumbai in the late evening. She represents the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has been given the responsibility to show me around and introduce me to people I have special interest in meeting during my visit. On the way to the hotel she tells me about the programme. She also talks about her hobbies; filmmaking and singing. During my days in Delhi, she does a very good job, every day from early morning to late evening. A few days later, on the way to the airport, she sings a quiet, melodic song about herself, a song about the little girl from a village up in the mountains far to the north who came to live in the big city. I see tears rolling down her cheeks, and I feel very touched having got to know a person who not only performs her job in a very professional manner, but also dares to show her feelings in such a way. My visit to India got a new dimension after the meeting with Madhur. Thanks a lot!!

 

 

 

 INDIA

India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.18 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Mainland India is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east; and it is bordered by Pakistan to the west, the People's Republic of China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, its Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also in the vicinity of the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Andaman Sea, and in the Andaman Sea India also shares a maritime border with Thailand. India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi).

Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity  and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region's diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread non-violent resistance.

India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and seven union territories. Apluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The Indian economy is the world's eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity.

Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1991, India has become one of the fastest growing major economies in the world; however, it still suffers from poverty, illiteracy, corruption, disease, and  malnutrition.  India is classified as a newly industrialised country and is one of the four BRIC nations. It is a nuclear weapons state and has the third-largest standing armed force in the world, while its military expenditure ranks tenth in the world. It is a founding member of the United Nations, the East Asia Summit, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the G-20 major economies.

 

 DELHI (official name: National Capital Territory of Delhi - NCT) is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest metropolis by population in India. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with more than 12.25 million inhabitants in the territory and with nearly 22.2 million residents in the National Capital Region urban area  The name Delhi is often also used to include some urban areas near the NCT, as well as to refer to New Delhi, the capital of India, which lies within the metropolis. It is the capital of India and its political and cultural centre. Located on the banks of the River Yamuna, Delhi has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BCE.

 MUMBAI, also known as Bombay is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of approximately 20 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Mumbai is also the richest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South or Central Asia.

 

   Impressions

 

 

 

 

 

Almost two years ago India experienced its 9/11 when terrorists from Pakistan came in by sea and sneaked into Mumbai via the port areas you see in the picture above. Taj Mahal Hotel and other buildings that were attacked are located just a few meters away from the hotel window I take this picture from…

 

The Mumbai Old Town is built on seven islands and was once an important centre for fisheries in the northern Arabian Sea. It was later turned into an important trade centre by the Portuguese and the British.  Today almost 20 million people live in Mumbai. The downtown bustling life is so dynamic and noisy that we Europeans can scarcely comprehend it…


Let me also tell you something about shopping in India, an activity almost always accompanied by haggling for the price, even in the finer shops. There are no price tags. If you are interested in an item, you ask one of the many store clerks how much it costs. Most prices start ridiculously high, even more so for me than my wife (I guess I look like a sucker). If you actually might buy the item, you try and look disgusted and see if they will lower it on their own. If they do (or if not), you offer a much lower price. They will counter with a slightly more reasonable price than the first, you respond with something above your first. This continues until one side refuses to budge and then you agree, or walk away empty-handed. I was never too good at this sort of bargaining (car dealers love guys like me) and usually let my wife do the buying.

 

 

 Taxi driver waiting for new passengers at his ‘Auto-rickshaw‘

(three-wheeled taxi)

 

 

 

  Vibrant daily life

 

 

Look closely at these three pictures. Maybe you will get a better insight into how daily life is lived and experienced for many in India. Look at the men above and their little ‘habitat’ on a pavement in Mumbai. Inside the building a hairdresser is in full swing to take care of a customer. The room contains obviously also a small pharmacy and a café. Out on the sidewalk a waiter just started serving tea to a small group of guests, while the vegetable trader has stopped up with his trolley full of figs and nuts, probably to share a cup of tea with his friends…

The image at right shows a small family that makes its living by selling vegetables from a sidewalk. No sales boot. No desk or cash registers.  They simply sit on the ground doing their business. But smile they do!

A rocky beach in downtown Mumbai. The fishermen have just come in and already sold today’s catch. Now they sit on the sand to rest a bit. They smoke, drink tea, and do obviously have lots of fun together.

The contrast between the distant fast-paced world and this “timeless” world is enormous.

 

 

 

               People I’ve met in India

 

My driver is a Muslim, but claims that in India there is no religious discrimination

 

 

  

Prof. Dr. Satya Vrat Shastri (80), 

Teacher of Sanskrit:

“To see him is to like him”

   

This Mumbai University student is convinced that I am a famous Hollywood actor

 

Prof. Vachaspati Ypadhyaya,

one of India’s finest scholars

 

 

Guarding the door 

at our hotel

 

  

Dr. Uma Vaidya, Dept of Sanskrit at the Mumbai University

 

 

 

 

Dr. Phil. Ashok Vora,
University of New Delhi

 

 

The Minister tells me about poverty in India

 

The main person behind Navi Mumbai, Mr. Shri Nukul Patil

 

 

A wannabe slumdog millionaire

I meet him near his home in one of the huge Mumbai slum districts. He is out in the streets every day to sell books and magazines to tourists and residents, so there is not much time for school or family life. Due to rising population, the number of slum dwellers in Mumbai is rising every day, and it is today estimated that around 55% of the city’s population lives in the slums (one billion people worldwide live in slums and the figure will likely grow to 2 billion by 2030). Even as the Indian economy remains one of the bright spots in the world showing an upward growth trajectory, around 49,000 slums continue to blight the urban landscape forcing lots of people to live in pathetic conditions. 

My young friend is still optimistic as he hastens on….

  Incredible business growth 

 

 

Geeta and Gulu Mirchandani in their beautiful Mumbai home

During my stay in Mumbai I get one night invited to the home of Geeta and Gulu Mirchandani. Gulu is an old acquaintance who since 1981 has developed and been in the forefront of the electronics giant ONIDA (Mirc Electronics). I consider Gulu one of the masterminds behind the impressive development India's economy has undergone over the last 30 years. He is also one of those behind the initiative 'Mumbai Angels' that provides a unique platform to start-up companies by bringing them face to face with successful entrepreneurs, professionals and executives, also helping with start-up funding. I believe this kind of support and team-work is what brings India quickly forwards in today’s harsh economic climate. Ref. www.mumbaiangels.com

 

 

India GDP

 

 

 

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in India expanded at an annual rate of 8.80 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2010. From 2004 until 2010, India's average quarterly GDP Growth was 8.37 percent reaching an historical high of 10.10 percent in September of 2006 and a record low of 5.50 percent in December of 2004. India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for more than half of India's output with less than one third of its labour force. The economy has posted an average growth rate of more than 7% in the decade since 1997, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points.

 

 

  Incredible Indian-Lithuanian relations

 

 

Professor Lokesh Chandra (83), one of India’s leading experts on Sanskrit and Buddhism

 

It’s early morning in Delhi. I have been invited to the small, dark office of Professor Lokesh Chandra, one of India’s leading experts on Sanskrit and Buddhism. “The same year I was born, 1927, my father went to London to get a degree in Lithuanian language. He spoke the language fluently, but he never visited Lithuania,” tells the elderly professor, still with his Kashmir coat and cap on despite the outside temperature of close to 300 Celsius.

I soon learn that the professor’s knowledge about the connections between Old Sanskrit and Lithuanian language and ancient cultural ties between India and Lithuania is nothing but amazing. He confirms that there since ancient times have been unique ties between India and Lithuania, not only with regards to language. Also the songs, the medieval cultures and more were extraordinary closely connected to each other.

Here is what he tells me this early morning at his New Delhi office: “The very mention of Lithuanian opens up an image, a vision that gives a people their identity through language. It shows how the darkness of dreams becomes the new embodied hope. My father was stimulated and strengthened in his work on the development of Hindi by the history of Lithuanian language. It has been the eternal continuity of these people; - it rustles something deep in their being. My father felt that we in India share with our distant Lithuanian brothers the silent geography of lost frontiers. Political freedom is inseparable from language.”

And the professor continues with his amazing story: “My father would relate how grandmas in the remote villages narrated folk-tales to eager grandchildren in their Lithuanian language which was despised by the Slavised nobility and punished by the Czarist regime. My father also told me how the Lithuanian daina (songs) were abandoned by the courts, but still continued to live on in the villages, faithfully preserved by the poorest people of Lithuania, guarded by the mothers of the families even during the darkest periods of Lithuania’s history.”

“Such was my first contact with Lithuania, in 1937, at an age of ten,” smiles Professor Chandra.

 

Sanskrit Tattoo Symbols

  Sanskrit and Lithuanian are closely related

Since the 19th century, when the similarity between Lithuanian and Sanskrit was discovered, Lithuanians have taken a particular pride in their mother tongue as the oldest living Indo-European language. To this day, to some Lithuanians their understanding of their nationality is based on their linguistic identity. It is no surprise then that they proudly quote the French linguist Antoine Meillet, who said, that anyone who wanted to hear old Indo-European should go and listen to a Lithuanian farmer. The 19th century maxim - the older the language the better - is still alive in Lithuania.

 

 

 

Professor Shashiprabha Kumar, and her amazing team of specialists at the Centre for Sanskrit Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, is convinced that there is a very strong connection between Old Sanskrit and Lithuanian

 

It is a common belief that there is a close similarity between the Lithuanian and Sanskrit languages; Lithuanian being the European language grammatically closest to Sanskrit. It is not difficult to imagine the surprise of the scholarly world when they learned that even in their time somewhere on the Nemunas River lived a people who spoke a language as archaic in many of its forms as Sanskrit itself. Although it was not exactly true that a professor of Sanskrit could talk to Lithuanian farmers in their language, coincidences between these two languages are truly amazing, for example:

SON:           Sanskrit sunus - Lithuanian sunus 

SHEEP:        Sanskrit avis - Lithuanian avis

SOLE:          Sanskrit padas - Lithuanian padas

MAN:           Sanskrit viras - Lithuanian vyras

SMOKE:        Sanskrit dhumas - Lithuanian dumas

These Lihuanian words have not changed their forms for the last five thousand years.

The relationship between Sanskrit and Lithuanian goes even deeper. Take, for example, the Lithuanian word 'daina' that usually is translated as 'song'. The word actually comes from an Indo-European root, meaning ‘to think, to remember, to ponder over’. This root is found in Sanskrit as dhi and dhya. The word also occurs in the Rigveda (ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns) in the sense of ‘speech reflecting the inner thoughts of man’.

Apart from its Indo-European background as word and term, the ‘daina’ incorporates the idea of the Sun-Goddess who was married to the Moon-God, reminiscent of goddess Surya in the Rigveda.

 

Sanskrit Tattoo Symbols

 

OM (also spelled AUM) is a Hindu sacred sound that is considered the greatest of all mantras.

The syllable OM is composed of the three sounds a-u-m (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u combine

to become o) and the symbol's threefold nature is central to its meaning.

 

 

  Mr. India in Lithuania

 

 

Honorary Consul of India to Lithuania, Wing Commander Rajinder Chaudhary (ret.)

It is not easy to have a conversation with Raj if you sit down at one of the outdoor tables in front of his Indian restaurant near the Cathedral Square in Vilnius city centre. ‘Everyone’ knows Raj, and many want to shake hands with this extraordinary gentle man when they see him. During the 13 years that have passed since he first came to Lithuania, he has become an outstanding, popular living legend and institution here in this cold country so far away from his childhood home in warm and hospitable India.

Raj was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in 1961, where he served for more than 20 years. He decided to retire in 1983. That same year he was awarded the Vasishat Seva Medal by the President of India. He joined the private sector in India in 1984 and rose to higher management positions with renowned ‘business houses’. In 1993 he became the CEO of a British company for their CIS operations and moved to Moscow. In 1995 he decided to join a Dubai based group’s office in Moscow, as Resident Director.

And, luckily for Lithuania, in 1997 Raj moved to Vilnius and started his own business; a restaurant with the name ‘Sue’s Indian Raja’. In less than three years he had set up a pan-Baltic chain with six other restaurants. His restaurant in Riga was named among the 100 best restaurants in the world.

Raj is married to Lina Skutaite-Chaudhary, a medical doctor who now works as a specialist at a hospital in the United Arabian Emirates. He has two sons, both IT professionals in the United States.

He has been the Honorary Consul of India to Lithuania since 2007.

Raj is the kind of man who does genuine honour to his country and his people. Lithuania should, for its part, feel honoured having individuals like Raj living and working in this country.

Category : Blog archive

Ink of the scholar

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THE INK OF THE SCHOLAR IS

MORE SACRED THAN THE

BLOOD OF THE MARTYR  

QUOTE: Prophet Muhammad (570-632) 

 

Birth of the Prophet Muhammad

(Iranian illustration)

Muhammad was born around the year 570 in the city of Mecca, Arabia. His name means "highly praised." Muhammad's full name was Abu al-Qasim Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Muttalib Ibn Hashim. He was the last prophet of the religion of Islam.

Muhammad's father, Abdallah, died several weeks before his birth and his mother, Aminah, died when he was six years old. He was raised by his paternal grandfather, 'Abd al Muttalib, until the age of eight, and after his grandfather's death by Abu Talib, his paternal uncle. Under the guardianship of Abu Talib, Muhammad began to earn a living as a businessman and a trader.

The tradition of Islam claims that in the year 610, Muhammad, while on a retreat to Mount Hira for meditation during the month of Ramadan, received his first revelation from the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel said to Muhammad: "Iqraa," meaning "read" or "recite." He replied, "I cannot read." Gabriel embraced Muhammad and after releasing him repeated: "Iqraa." Muhammad's answer was the same as before. Gabriel repeated the embrace, asking Muhammad to repeat after him and said: "Recite in the name of your Lord who created! He created man from that which clings. Recite; and thy Lord is most Bountiful, He who has taught by the pen, taught man what he knew not."

The Angel Gabriel visited the Muhammad many times over a period of twenty-three years. Gabriel taught Muhammad the verses and he instructed his scribes to record them. All the revealed verses are compiled in the Qur'an. The Prophet's sayings and actions are recorded separately in collections known as Hadith. Muslims believe that Muhammad was a messenger of Allah (Arabic for The One and Only God) and last of the prophets sent by Allah to guide man to the right path.

The Prophet's mission was to restore the worship of the One True God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, as taught by Prophet Abraham and all Prophets of God, and to demonstrate the laws of moral, ethical, legal, and social conduct. Islam means peace by submission and obedience to the Will and Commandments of God. Those who accept Islam are called Muslims, meaning those who have accepted the message of peace by submission to God. 

 

 

Children of ‘the age of terrorism’ 

I had just come home to our apartment here in Vilnius after having taken my then 4-year-old daughter home from kindergarten. She was playing on the floor beside me while I sat down to watch the latest world news on CNN. What I saw on the screen in front of me was so unreal that I first could not believe that this was real news. My first thought was that CNN was showing fragments of a new film or the like. But it soon dawned on me that what I was seeing was the beginning of an unimaginable attack and a tragedy that would forever change our world's history and development.

11 September 2001 was the day when America was attacked on its own soil. The unthinkable had happened. 

The nine years that have followed have brought enormous changes, not only in the U.S., but for the entire world community. The war against terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq and countless suicide attacks across virtually the entire world have all become tragic symbols of the scourge of our time -- in a way few of us could have imagined when the new millennium had barely started.

Lithuania has been little influenced by the 'war on terror'. Admittedly, the country is participating with troops in Afghanistan and it also became an almost-scandal when it became known that the CIA had two prisons for suspected terrorists here since 2005.

But even if Lithuania is not so much directly affected by what has happened around the world after the attack on the twin towers in New York on 11 September 2001, this country is also a part of a global society that is both physically and mentally experiencing enormous repercussions.

I often ask myself: "What kind of world is it our children have to grow up in post-9/11? The daily traumas inflicted to the children in the two countries that have been hardest hit, Iraq and Afghanistan, are naturally the worst and most long-term harmful, but our children in the so-called free world have undoubtedly also been influenced by what happened and they will for many years have to experience the consequences in many different ways.

I was not aware that my little daughter saw what took place on the TV screen this September day nine years ago, so I must admit I was slightly shocked and shaken when she suddenly, a month later, came to give me a drawing she had made. The image of 'a plane flying into the tall tower' had been instilled in the child brain, and here she came to me with her visualisation of what she had seen and experienced in her thoughts when I thought she was quietly playing, occupied in her own childish world.

 

Without that I knew about it had my 4-year-old daughter made this drawing,

almost a month after she and I had seen on CNN how the planes crashed

into the twin towers in New York on 11 September 2001.

 

It goes without saying that we, the adults, need to help children feel as safe as possible at a time when the world has become a more dangerous place.  Parents and teachers in particular should help youngsters understand current events factually, how events do or do not impact their lives, and how to handle their emotional reactions. All children are likely to be affected in some way by ‘the age of terrorism’. 

For many of our children, the guidance of caring adults will make the difference between being overwhelmed and developing life-long emotional and psychological coping skills. It is crucial to provide opportunity for children to discuss their concerns and to help them separate real from imagined fears.

The lessons of 11 September 2001 are many. Some ‘contribute’ by burning the Quran. Others work for reconciliation and understanding between the people of our fragile little planet.

 

Aage Myhre

Editor

 

Two Lithuanian ‘terrorism cases’

 

This former riding school allegedly

served as a CIA detention centre. 

 

The CIA set up at least two secret detention centres in Lithuania after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US, a Lithuanian inquiry found in 2009. A parliamentary committee report says in 2005 and 2006, CIA chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania. It says that no Lithuanian officials were allowed near the aircraft, nor were they told who was on board.

Poland and Romania hosted similar CIA "black sites", say reports by ABC News in the US. In Lithuania, one centre on the outskirts of the capital Vilnius had room for eight terror suspects at a time, according to ABC News. It was formerly a riding school and suspects were reportedly held there between 2004 and 2005.

But the parliamentary report appears to absolve Lithuania's political leaders of responsibility for any human rights violations that may have been committed by the CIA. It says even the president (Valdas Adamkus) was unaware of exactly what the US intelligence service was doing.

In January 2010 Lithuania's foreign minister resigned his post following a sharp disagreement between him and President Dalia Grybauskaite over whether the country had held detainees at a secret CIA prison. President Grybauskaite believes it likely that Lithuania held such prisoners, something the foreign minister had denied.

Mr Usackas has continued to insist that no prisoners had been held for interrogations, while the president said this was likely and called for prosecutors to open their own enquiry into a possible abuse of office by three top security officials.

 

The ‘terrorist’ from Klaipeda

Another controversial ‘terrorism case’ in Lithuania has been the case of Egle Kusaite (21). The young woman from Klaipeda was arrested in October 2009 by the Lithuanian State Security Department on suspicions that she was ready to travel to some military facility in Chechnya as a suicide bomber. In August 2010 she was finally released in a court hall under the ruling of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania. The ruling of the Court of appeal of Lithuania was determined final and not subject to any appeal.

 

Egle Kusaite on her way out of the

appeal court, finally free again.

 

According to prosecutors, Kusaite, had constant internet and phone contacts with Islamists in Russia, though an unnamed former employee of Klaipeda's State Security Department told Lithuanian public TV that he did not believe in the terrorist intentions of Kusaite. When Kusaite was 17 years old she left for Germany where she lived for a year in a small town with Chechens. Later, according to the LNK TV Paskutine Instancija programme, Kusaite returned to Klaipeda where she lived in a flat rented with taxpayers' money by the Lithuanian State Security Department and was closely observed by Lithuanian security agents. The Web site of the North Caucasus' Islamists (www.kavkazcenter.com) cries about the torture against Kusaite in Lukiskes Prison. 

On 11 June 2010, Virginija Kusiene, Kusaite's mother, and Irena Jeleniauskaite, Kusaite's aunt, held a press conference in the Lithuanian parliament stating that all Kusaite's confessions about her intention to become a suicide bomber were obtained using physical and psychological pressure. "Egle's confession was forced through violence and threats," Kusiene said, adding that her daughter has been observed by the Lithuanian State Security Department since she was 14 years old because of her friendship with a young Chechen refugee and, according to Kusiene, "all the Chechens are observed by the security in Lithuania." Jeleniauskaite said that the Lithuanian and Russian security services made up the case of her niece and, during one of the interrogations only Russian agents took part. "Only the Russians were present and they were smashing her head into the wall," Jeleniauskaite said. 

On 11 June, Algimantas Kliunka, chief prosecutor of the Prosecutor General's Office Organized Crime and Corruption Prevention Department, also held his press conference in the parliament. He denied accusations made by Kusaite's mother and aunt, stating that Kusaite was ready to perform a suicide bombing in a public space in Chechnya. Kliunka said that the representatives from Russia participated in the interrogations as observers and no physical violence was used. 

"Kusaite is suspected of making contact in June-October of 2009 with the Islamist groups based in Russia. From them she received an invitation to come to Russia, received 500 U.S. dollars (410 euros) for the trip, took out a Lithuanian passport and got a Russian visa. We asked the Russian embassy not to issue the visa, but they gave her their visa. “Then we were forced to arrest her, preventing her from travelling to Russia," Kliunka said.

 

Category : Blog archive

Summer sumary

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SUMMER

 

SUMMARY

 

Earlier this week I stood looking out over the Baltic Sea. I stood at the pier in the seaside resort of Palanga from where I caught the above motif through my camera lens. I thought of Palanga’s two great sons, Count Tiškevičius and Mayor Šliupas, who also certainly often were looking out to the endless waves rolling towards the white sandy beaches of Lithuania’s fantastic sea coast. I felt pleased that the summer in Lithuania this year had been exceptionally good and warm; in fact as if to stay at a Mediterranean Coast. And I thought that maybe the summer of 2010 will be remembered as a turning point - that perhaps now again better times are coming for Lithuania and the Lithuanian people. 

Still, this year's summer has unfortunately not been marked only by good news, as you will see from the following news overview, but I feel more optimistic this year than I did last year at this time ...

I wish you, dear readers, a warm and successful autumn!

 

Aage Myhre

Editor

 

 

This year's summer in Lithuania has been the best ever!  At least in terms of weather ... 

25 – 37o C (77 – 100 F) more or less continuously for the period June - August ...

 

 

 

 

Lithuania's unemployment offices (darbo birža) are getting busier.

89% THINK THE SITUATION IN LITHUANIA IS GETTING WORSE

A recent survey shows that 89 percent of Lithuanians think the situation in the country is getting worse for them. After two years of crisis, most people have seen their wages fall along with their living standard. Less people now go on holidays and citizens in the country are buying less goods. The Baltijos Tyrimai survey, carried out 26-31 May showed only 10 percent of respondents thought the country is turning for the better, while one percent had no opinion. unemployment, already nearly at 20 percent, continues to rise in spite of improving macro-economic trends.

 

FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS FOR PRIME MINISTER KUBILIUS

Lithuanian economy grew faster than initially estimated in the second quarter of 2010, Statistics Lithuania said in a latest report on Friday. The annual growth rate was revised upwards to 1.3% from 1.1% estimated previously. It followed a 2.8% contraction in the first quarter. Gross domestic product turned positive after declining for the past six quarters. In 2009, the economy shrank 14.8%. On a seasonal and working day adjusted basis, GDP rose 3.2% from the first quarter, revised up from 2.9% reported initially. This compares to a 4% fall in the first three months of the year. Annually, the seasonally and working day-adjusted GDP rose 1.4%.

 

 

  

Lithuania’s  National Opera 

and Ballet Theatre

 

 

Mayor of Kaunas,

 Andrius Kupčinskas

 

 

 

The projected

Vilnius Guggenheim Museum

 

 

  

Klaipeda’s Vice Mayor,

Judita Simonavičiūtė

 

 

Kyšininkavimu įtariamas prokuroras E.Vaitekūnas - atleistas

Erikas Vaitekūnas, one of the prosecutors from Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office, was arrested this summer, on suspicion of bribery, by the Special Investigation Service (STT).

SUMMER FRAUD AND CORRUPTION CASES (WILL THEY EVER LEARN?)

VILNIUS — Lithuania’s Minister of Culture Remigijus Vilkaitis has ordered the National Audit Office to compile evidence to incriminate the management of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre because of alleged graft. He has asked for them to prepare evidence and punish those involved in suspected violations in public procurement procedures that run into the millions.

KAUNAS — The general prosecutor’s office is initiating a criminal investigation into the mayor of Kaunas, Andrius Kupčinskas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, for allegedly falsifying city council vote records to change disputed municipal policies. The Mayor is saying the investigation is politically motivated.

VILNIUS — About 1 million litai (€290,000) in funding for the Vilnius Guggenheim Museum, set to be built in the Lithuanian capital, appears to have gone missing according to state auditors.

KLAIPĖDA — A court in Klaipėda is trying to recover 689,209 litai (€199,800) after 58 city employees were implicated in an illegal benefits scheme. The four main suspects, Vice Mayor Judita Simonavičiūtė and city council members Valentinas Greičiūnas, Vygantas Vareikis and Antanas Gintautas Murauskas were called to court in June.

VILNIUS — The ongoing criminal investigation of Vilniaus Vandenys, the Lithuanian capital city’s water utility, heated up with the country’s Public Procurement Office accusing management of hiding key documents. Four senior officials from the state-run Vilniaus Vandenys water utility company, including the CEO have been arrested in a bust by anti-corruption police

PRAVIENIŠKĖS — Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice announces that it is launching an investigation into the construction of a prison hospital complex in the village of Pravieniškės, alleging that millions of euros were wasted on faulty work.

VILNIUS — The Vilnius municipality is demanding an audit of the Sapiega Hospital, alleging 2 million litai (€580,000) are missing and that corrupt personnel policies have crippled the institution’s finances. The dispute comes as the Vilnius municipal government took authority over at the beginning of the month from the Vilnius regional government.

KAUNAS — President Dalia Grybauskaitė sacked a judge this week after it was found that she acted in breach of the law including fraudulently seizing high-value real estate. Disgraced former Kaunas City District Court Judge Daiva Mekšraitienė had the decree signed against her sacking her from the position after an investigation against her. 

VILNIUS — Erikas Vaitekūnas, one of the prosecutors from Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office, was arrested on suspicion of bribery by the Special Investigation Service (STT). The case is yet another blow for the credibility of the Prosecutor General’s Office, which has been under fire all this year.

KLAIPĖDA — The general director and procurement department manager of a Lithuanian oil transport company Naftos Grupė have been arrested by police under suspicion of embezzling 30 million litai (€8.7 million) via fraudulent sales.

VILNIUS — Lithuania’s National Audit Office says that the country’s economic stimulus for small and medium-sized businesses has not been implemented properly, with only 155 million litai out of the total 2.1 billion litai (€608 million) allocated.

VILNIUS — Lithuanian parliamentarians Linas Karalius and Aleksandr Sacharuk were in June facing impeachment votes in the Seimas after a commission set up to consider their fates found that they had seriously infringed on their responsibilities.

BALTIC - RUSSIAN - BELARUSIAN ENERGY WAR HEADING FOR CLIMAX
The relationship between Russia and the Baltic States has hardly been tenser since the Soviet invasion in 1991, and it’s all about energy. The Russians are doing what they can to prevent the Baltic countries from building their new nuclear power plant, and is also trying hard to get total control of everything that has to do with gas, oil and electricity. It now appears, however, that the EU and not least Sweden, has seen this danger and is now planning for support to the Balts, i.e. by supporting an undersea cable from Sweden to Lithuania (the NordBalt project) by allocating € 131 million for the project now in August. The money will pay for the connection Between Nydro, Sweden and Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas

 

 

President Brazauskas' coffin

on its way toward the Presidential Palace in Vilnius

BRAZAUSKAS BODY BARRED FROM THE VILNIUS CATHEDRAL

Though it is customary to have the remains of public figures on display in Vilnius Cathedral, the Lithuanian branch of the Catholic Church did not allow it during the funeral mass for late Algirdas Brazauskas, who served as both president and prime minister. Brazauskas, revered by many Lithuanians for his role in securing the country’s independence from the Soviet Union, did not have his remains on display in the cathedral because he was part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Kaunas Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevičius revealed. He said that people couldn’t be rich and powerful without following the ways of the church and still expect the rewards. Brazauskas died on the 26th of June after a long time struggle against cancer.

 

BELARUSIAN KGB ARRESTS VILNIUS POLICE CHIEF

The company commander of the municipal mounted police of Vilnius, Laimonas Bankauskas, who was detained on 16 August by Belarusian KGB on alleged accusations of drug smuggling, was released in the evening on 25 August. Mr. Bankauskas was detained in the town of Ashmyany (Hrodna region) on 16 August. 45.5 grams of amphetamine were found on him. Bankauskas denied his guilt. His family says the drugs were planted on him.

 

 

 

Lithuanian Jewish community executive director Simonas Alperavicius

WILL THE TENSION BETWEEN LITVAKS AND LITHUANIA EVER COME TO AN END?

Disagreements and misunderstandings are still far too frequent in the relations between Lithuania and the Litvaks, the Lithuanian Jews who once had its heyday in this country and now today stands at the head of a lot of 'Jewish' in this world.

The last unfortunate ‘incident’ took place last week, when a pig’s head was left at the door of a synagogue in the second largest city in Lithuania, Kaunas – a particularly offensive attack due to the non-kosher status of swine in Jewish dietary laws. Chief Rabbi Chaim Burstein and Lithuanian Jewish community executive director Simonas Alperavicius together issued a statement condemning the incident. “The Lithuanian Jewish community and the religious community of Lithuanian Jews judge this as a Nazi provocation aimed at insulting the ethnic and religious feelings of Lithuanian Jews,” they said. “We hope that Lithuanian society will not be impassive as this act of a few anti-Semitic vandals does not reflect the attitude of Lithuanian society,” Gurevicius added in a subsequent comment.

 

DONALD TRUMP FILES SUITE AGAINST LITHUANIAN COMPANY

US billionaire Donald Trump’s company has filed an illegal trademark use motion against Mrs. Universe 2010 beauty contest which was held in Lithuania last week.  The suit against Lithuanian company Pramogu Akademija was filed a week ago. The Lithuanian company denies the accusation of usage of an illegal trademark.  The law company will insist on banning the trademark Mrs. Universe 2010.   ”We filed a motion with the Vilnius County Court over illegal use of Mrs. Universe trademark and its Lithuanian version Misis Visata. We filed the lawsuit on behalf of US Company Miss Universe,” Erikas Saukalas of the law office Metida told Baltic News Service

 

 

 

 

 

LITHUANIAN NEWSPAPER PREDICTS PRESIDENT CLINTON'S DEATH

According to the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Žinios has former President Clinton only about six months to live. In the middle of August the paper said that Clinton is losing weight and looking worse every day that passes. It also claims that it has come as a great shock to Americans that the former president that once was so popular now has so little time left to live. 

'It is difficult to predict anything, especially with regard to the future', said the noted Danish poet Piet Hein once. But this sort of wisdom does not stop a renowned Lithuanian newspaper…

               

 

 

Category : Blog archive

Jonas Sliupas

- Posted by - (6) Comment

 

THE MAN WHO

 

DECLINED

 

THE PRESIDENCY

 

Dr. Jonas Sliupas (1861 – 1944) 

The year is 1926. It is a very dark late autumn evening in Kaunas, Lithuania's capital between 1st and 2nd World Wars, when three officers from the Lithuanian army rush up to the house where Dr. Jonas Sliupas now lives while he teaches at the University of Kaunas. It is nearly midnight when the officers knock heavily on his door and asks to come inside.

The officers bring shocking news. They tell that since the early autumn of 1926 key officers within two army groups have been in full swing of planning a coup d’état in Lithuania, and that they have now reached the point that they want to depose of President Kazys Grinius and insert a new President. The question to Dr. Sliupas is therefore whether he can accept becoming the country's new President.

But Dr. Sliupas is not willing to accept. President Grinius has been his good friend for many years, and Sliupas is puzzled as to why the military has found a coup appropriate and necessary. His answer to the officers is therefore that the only way he could accept becoming President of Lithuania would be through a democratic election.

The officers had to leave Sliupas empty-handed that night, but continued their plans, and the very coup took place a few days later, during the very night when the 60th birthday of President Grinius was celebrated, 17 December 1926.

During that night, military forces occupied central military and government offices and arrested officials. Colonel Kazys Škirpa, who had initiated a military reform programme tried to rally troops against the coup, but was soon overpowered and arrested. The Seimas (Parliament) was dispersed and President Grinius was placed under house arrest at the same time as army colonel Povilas Plechavičius was declared dictator of Lithuania just minutes after he had been released from the prison cell where he was serving a 20-day sentence for a fist fight with another officer.

Later that same day, however, Colonel Plechavičius asked Antanas Smetona to become the new President of Lithuania.

The 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état (Lithuanian: 1926-ųjų perversmas) was a military coup that resulted in the replacement of the democratically elected government with a conservative authoritarian government led by Antanas Smetona.

 

 

TO THE PUBLIC

      Lithuanian army, which sacrificed lives for dear Lithuania and is still ready to spill blood for its independence, seeing that the current Seimas and government are selling Lithuania to Bolsheviks and foreigners decided to temporarily take the power in its hands so that the power could be transferred as soon as possible to real sons of Lithuania. MARTIAL LAW IS DECLARED IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, and siege law in KAUNAS.

        Everybody is commanded to go about their duties; those who will not do their duties will be tried in military tribunal.

TEMPORARY WAR GOVERNMENT

 

A pamphlet distributed in Kaunas following the coup declared martial law and commanded everyone to go about their daily duties. It was signed by the Temporary War Government.

 

One can rightly ask what kind of Lithuania we would have had if Dr. Jonas Sliupas had not declined the Presidency that late autumn night. But in view of his human qualities and his extraordinary life story from both the United States and Lithuania, it is no wonder that this honourable man declined the Presidency and instead chose to continue his tireless fight for his beloved homeland, with important titles and tasks in the years leading up to World War II, but not as the country's top figure as the country's military leaders had wanted.

During his remarkably productive lifetime, Jonas Sliupas was a medical doctor, a leader of Lithuania's national awakening, a powerful orator and organizer, a writer of numerous articles on Lithuanian politics, economy, culture, and medicine, a historian, a diplomat, a free-thinker, and a publisher of seven newspapers.  He also served as the author or translator of over 70 books and was a pioneer in helping develop and modernize Lithuania's economy.

Jonas Sliupas was born on the 6th of March 1861 in the village of Rakandziai in northern Lithuania.  In 1880, he graduated with honours from Mintauja (Jelgava) high school.  Next, he studied philology and law at Moscow University and later transferred to Saint Petersburg University to study natural science.  Because of his participation in the student anti-czarist movement, however, Sliupas was incarcerated in 1883 and was banned from further studies at any Russian university.

The Russian government banned all books and newspapers in the Latin alphabet in Lithuania from 1864 to 1904.  Consequently, Sliupas joined with others to publish an underground Lithuanian language nationalist newspaper, which was smuggled into Lithuania from outside.  Together with Dr. J. Basanavicius and three other idealists, Sliupas published and edited the clandestine newspaper Ausra (Dawn) in Lithuania Minor from 1883 to 1884.  Ausra, whose very name was suggested by Sliupas, is considered to be the driving force behind the Lithuanian nationalist awakening of the late nineteenth century.

Because of his ongoing nationalist activities, both Prussian and Russian police began pursuing him.  Facing imminent arrest, Sliupas had to flee to the United States in 1884, where he would remain until 1918.  He began studying at the University of Maryland in Baltimore in 1889 and graduated with a degree in medicine in 1891.

Dr. Sliupas was very active among Lithuanian-American immigrants, helping inspire in them a deep sense of national pride in their ancestral homeland.  Although he was a free-thinker, he nevertheless helped establish several Lithuanian Roman Catholic parishes.  He also invited Lithuanian priests to the Unites States and worked with them to promote a strong sense of Lithuanian ethnic and cultural identity among the parishioners.  Being a powerful, inspiring, and uncompromising orator, Sliupas travelled extensively throughout the United States, delivering rousing speeches in which he urged Lithuanian Americans to unite in order to help Lithuania regain its independence.

Sliupas also edited newspapers and wrote or translated numerous books.  Fluent in eight languages, he wrote thousands of articles both about Lithuania itself and about various medical topics for Lithuanian, American, Polish, German, Swedish, British, French and Russian newspapers.  He also helped dozens of Lithuanian-American societies, several of which still are in existence today.

During World War I, Sliupas vigorously lobbied the United States government for diplomatic recognition an economic support for Lithuania. Having established a personal friendship with U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sliupas campaigned tirelessly in Washington D.C. for Lithuanian and Latvian independence.  In 1918, Sliupas opened the first Lithuanian Legation in London.  Then, in 1919, he was with the Lithuanian independence movement at the Paris Peace Conference.  After returning to Lithuania, in 1919, he was appointed the first envoy to Latvia and Estonia.

Between 1921 and 1924, Dr. Sliupas taught hygiene and medical history at Birzai and Siauliai high schools.  From 1925 to 1929, he lectured at the University of Lithuania in Kaunas.  He also worked diligently to encourage investment in Lithuania's economy by investing much of his own savings in the country's economic development.  Sliupas was the first mayor of the sea-side resort of Palanga, and he continued intermittently in this position from 1933 until Soviet occupation began in 1940.  During June of 1941, he again resumed the role of mayor but was forced by the Germans to resign, because of his attempts to protect Jewish residents of the city.

Jonas Šliupas Memorial Homestead at Vytauto g. 23a, Palanga,

stands there still today. Worth a visit!

 

Image

Dr. Sliupas with family and friends at his Palanga home. 

Dr. Jonas Sliupas died in exile in Berlin, Germany on the 6th of November 1944.

Surviving family members transported his ashes to the United States, where they are buried in the Lithuanian National Cemetery near Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Jonas Sliupas has been recognized numerous times for his life-long dedication to Lithuania's nationalist awakening and its restoration of independence.  Among many other honours, Sliupas received three Honorary Doctorates from the University of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas.  These include a doctorate in Medicine (1923), one in Humanities (1925), and one in Law (1939).  Many organizations, both in Lithuania and in the United States, have declared him an honorary member.  The Lithuanian government bestowed upon Sliupas the Gediminas First and Second Order medals.  The Latvian government honoured him with the Three Star Second and Third Order medals, and the Lithuanian Post Office issued two stamps in his honour.

In half a year, on the 6th of March 2011, it will be 150 years since Jonas Sliupas was born. He will be celebrated as one of Lithuania’s true heroes and finest gentlemen ever, with an amazing record of achievements for his beloved homeland.

(a more detailed article about Dr. Sliupas at the page bottom)

 

 

LIKE FATHER,

 

LIKE SON

 

Vytautas J. Sliupas at the great Lithuanian farm project that he started in 2002,

‘The Auksuciai Farm & Forest Center’ near Siaulia in North Lithuania.

 

After the death of his wife Liudvika, Jonas Sliupas married Grasilda Grauslytė in 1929. After settling in Palanga, their son, Vytautas, was born to them on the 24th of October 1930.

Their son, Vytautas J. Sliupas, later became an irrigation, drainage and water resources engineer. Now retired for many years, he lives in California, USA, but visits Lithuania every summer.

I have the great honour and pleasure to call Vytautas Sliupas my friend. As I understand and feel it, he has the same strong love of Lithuania, which his father had. This despite the fact that he was forced to flee from Lithuania with his parents in 1944 and since has lived virtually all his life in the United States. 

 

Vytatutas Sliupas turns 80 years old in only a few weeks, and I would like to take this opportunity

to congratulate him so very much on his big day, the 24th of October! 

Under a little more about his big project in Northern Lithuania, for almost 10 years now www.aukfoundation.org :

The US non-profit Auksuciai Foundation was established to help small scale Lithuanian farmers become more self-sufficient and competitive in a free market economy. A primary way that Foundation is working to achieve this goal is through support and advisory involvement with a model farm facility (the Auksuciai Farm and Forest Center, a Lithuanian non-profit), that allows participants from academia, business, government, and the farm community to share information and technology regarding environmentally sound management (including forests) and commercial agricultural production practices. Additionally, the Foundation organizes farmer-to-farmer and agricultural student exchanges; farmer mentoring; and in country workshops between the agricultural and forest communities of the U.S. and Lithuania.

The Auksuciai Farm & Forest Center was formally established as a Lithuanian non- profit entity on 9 September 2002.The primary purpose of the centre is to provide Lithuanian farmers with educational and technological opportunities through an aggressive program of local applied research and education. It also serves as a stimulus and facilitator for the incorporation of new technologies in modern agriculture.

The centre is located on a 157-hectare (389-acre) farm near the town of Kursenai in the Siauliai Region in north Lithuania. At this site a year long programme of research on new crops, improvement of existing crops and improved farming practices is conducted by staff. The farm is operated under master lease and use agreement with the Auksuciai Foundation-USA. The operations of the farm are divided into two divisions- Farm Operations and Research and Education programs. Though most of the farming operations are leased out for income purposes it also is used as a large scale demonstration of new and modern farming technologies. The Research and Education division comprises smaller areas of the farm where research on new crops and technologies are conduced under strict scientific procedures. All information generated from the research projects is considered public information and is available at no charge to local farmers and other interested individuals.

One of the latest successful achievements of the farm is the introduction of edible asparagus (smidrai in Lithuanian).  Lithuanians long ago knew this very useful vegetable, but during the last century it was forgotten.  Now the farm is reintroducing this crop as a very profitable commodity that can be grown by small scale Lithuanian farmers.  The farm have plans of greatly expanding this, and other experimental crops, but unfortunately in the last several years the farm’s supporters have decreased considerably due to the world economic crisis, hence Mr. Sliupas and his team are now at the point where they look for new supporters and investors

 

Aage Myhre

Editor

 

Mr. Vytautas Sliupas can be reached at sliupasvyt@sbcglobal.net

The Auksuciai Farm & Forest Center

Category : Blog archive

Two grumpy old men

- Posted by - (3) Comment

 

INTRODUCING

 

OURSELVES

Two grumpy old men

 

Dear VilNews reader,

A few days ago I met an acquaintance. He told me he that was looking for a new apartment in Vilnius Old Town. When I told him that I am an architect and that I have many years experience in buying, selling and developing of apartments and other types of property in Lithuania, he was very surprised.  He knew me only as President of VIC and Editor of VilNews.

So now I have promised to offer appropriate objects for him and his family to consider over the next few days. But not only that. I have also promised to share with him my experience about which streets / areas are the safest to live in, and I have promised him to check all potential objects carefully in terms of quality of construction and materials, as well as functionality, and potential noise problems, etc.

What struck me after the meeting with my acquaintances, was that maybe this applies to many of you, dear readers; that you do not know much about what we, the two grumpy old men, Vin Karnila and I, do in addition to our efforts to write and edit VilNews…

So here comes our little ‘self-promotion’. We hope you forgive us if this sounds a bit too much self-promotional, but we have on the other hand, always kept a very low profile in this respect...

I hope you also notice that what we do, also in our business life, aims to contribute to more activity and better understanding of what Lithuania has to offer in different contexts.

We would appreciate if you take advantage of our services and hope you also let your friends and acquaintances know about what we have to offer.

We hope for your response and would like to thank you in advance!

 

Aage Myhre

Editor

 

Note: As you may have noticed, VilNews has not been released quite so frequently now through the summer months. But we promise to soon be in full swing again, and look forward to having you as a permanent reader also through the upcoming autumn months!

 

 

Aage Myhre, VilNews Editor

 

 

 

Aage Myhre is Norwegian, but has lived in Lithuania for almost 20 years. He holds a Norwegian M.Sc.  of Civil Engineering (dept. of Architecture), and has 35 years of experience as a journalist. He has been actively involved in Lithuanian affairs since 1990 – within politics, business, new investments, media, architecture and general development of the country.

 

I have flats for sale

in Vilnius Old Town

and Zverynas

At the moment I have a handful of Old Town apartments for sale (70 - 200 m2)

 


I have 3 projected town houses for sale in Zverynas (200 m2 each). High standard, fantastic, green location at river Neris. Expected ready by the end of 2011

 

MY BUSINESS IS TO OFFER, DESIGN AND DEVELOP PROPERTIES, AS WELL AS TO ASSIST INVESTORS LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES IN LITHUANIA

Are you looking for a new home in Lithuania? Or maybe a new office? Or do you consider investing in real estate or other business here? Either way, you are welcome to write or call me. I have apartments for sale right now, I'm working on a townhouse project in the borough Zverynas, and I know quite a bit about what happens in this market. I can give you advice about quality, location, functionality etc., and I can help you with renovations or new construction regardless of type of building or property. My broad network of specialists in virtually every profession may also prove useful if you plan your business here. Lithuania is a country full of pitfalls, and I can probably help you avoid many of them.

 

For more information about architecture and construction,

please visit my web page www.aam.lt

(PS: I know it needs to be updated…)

For inquires about available properties and more,

please write me at aagemyhre@aam.lt

or telephone me at +370 699 33 222

 

Vin Karnila, VilNews Associate Editor

 

 


 

 

Vin Karnila was born and raised in the Boston area of the USA, by a Scottish mother and Lithuanian father. Six years ago, he decided to move to Lithuania , where he is now actively engaged in offering typical Lithuanian products to the world market and teaching Lithuanian companies and business people to improve their business English.

 

I can offer you

genuine Lithuanian

products – online!

Books, maps, CDs – you name it, I have it!

 

ELECTRIC POTATO GRATER - 110 Volt

The electric potato grader is a must if you want to make genuine Lithuanian potato dishes!

 

MY BUSINESS IS TO OFFER GENUINE LITHUANIAN PRODUCTS TO A WORLD MARKET, AND HELP LOCAL PEOPLE IMPROVE THEIR ENGLISH SKILLS

 

 

I fell in love with my fatherland immediately when I first visited here eight years ago. I like the traditions, I like the food and I like the people here, so I quickly came to the conclusion that this is something I must try to share with other people here and abroad. Then I established the company Baltic Value that for several years now has sold various products online to customers around the world. The company has today a rich selection of books, maps, music and much more in stock. My biggest success so far is still 'the “Electric Potato Grater” that is now in use in Baltic homes across the globe! An almost indispensable aid middle for those who want to prepare cepelinai, potato pancakes and other Baltic potato dishes.

My second work here in Lithuania is to engage in teaching business English to business people and companies that want to improve their language level so that they can be more effective communicating in the international market place.

 

 

For more information please visit my web pages

 

BALTIC PRODUCTS: http://stores.balticvalue.com/StoreFront.bok

ENGLISH TEACHING: www.TarptautinisEnglish.com

Category : Blog archive

Klaipeda sea festival

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THE KLAIPEDA

 

SEA FESTIVAL!

This is the week-end when you should be in Klaipeda, Lithuania’s sea port city. Because now it’s again time for the annual Sea Festival out there!

For the 51st time Klaipeda will be the venue of the west coast’s largest summer fiesta. The Festival, which has been organized since 1934, promotes Lithuania as a maritime state and Klaipeda as a friendly, open, safe and attractive port city. The Sea Festival of this year will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Lithuanian Navy.

About half a million visitors from Lithuania and abroad are expected to the Festival, and the participants will be able to take part in more than 100 different events during this lively Klaipeda week-end.

This year, like every year, there are a lot of events related to the sea: a parade of maritime organizations of the city, commemoration of the first Lithuanian sea captain Liudvikas Stulpinas, a ceremony to honour those who perished at sea, day voyages by ships, water sports competitions, a ceremony to pay tribute to the best seafarers and maritime organizations.

Besides the official ceremonies, there is an amazing entertainment programme for the participants of the Festival (see below). In the old city, there will be numerous concert places with different programmes for children, youth and elderly people. Professional artists, troupes of public art organizations will perform.

Exhibition halls, picture galleries, cultural institutions open their doors for visitors inviting to new expositions related to the Sea Festival and the sea.

In addition to the concerts, street performances, exhibitions and other art events, the Sea Festival attracts hundreds of folk artists selling their works. Tents with open-air cafés will be available for any thirsty soul in the city squares and streets...

Every evening this week-end picturesque fireworks will decorate the sea coast skies to celebrate Klaipeda’s 758th anniversary and to highlight that another lively, colourful Sea Festival is in full swing!

  

PROGRAMME

30 July (Friday)

 

Klaipėda County I. Simonaityte public library

9.00 - 13.00 - Seminar „CHILDREN`S LITERATURE AND THE SEA“

Atgimimo square

12.00 – Opening of Vytautas Karaciejus macro-photo exhibition.

Danė square

12.00 – Opening of folk-art fair

Culture and Rest park (Pušyno str./ H.Manto str., Klaipėda University bus-station)

13.00 – Park holiday „ART BALTICA 2010 FOR KLAIPEDA PARK“

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city)

17.00 – 22.00 – Opening of the gates of „THE LAND OF WONDERS“. Folk artists` fair, education  yard, creative workshops, artistic installations.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city) - „Švyturys arts` dock“

18.00 – 22.00 –„LITHUANIAN TALENTS 2010“.

Šaulių str. – Cruise vessel terminal

19.00 – Opening parade of Sea Festival 2010

The workers of maritime companies, stevedoring companies and organizations, Navy company, participants of 43rd International Curonian Lagoon regatta, pupils of sailing school „Suominis“ and the representatives of Klaipėda rowers club, participants of the gathering of brass-bands „Storms of Orchestras“ – orchestras from Riga, Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Panevėžys will take place in the parade.  

Tiltų str. 3

19.00 – 21.00 – Collage of changing sketches „ALMOST SACRED INVENTIONS“ in a „Moment`s theatre" .

Square at „Meridianas“quay (embankment)

19.00 – 21.00 –Program of events of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“  – participants of the evening of songs – pupils of Stasys Šimkus conservatoire.

Culture Communications Centre yard

20.00 – 22.00 – Concert of a group „ARBIS“. The old hits and the new songs of „HIPERBOLE“ gitarist Igor Berin in the performance.

Theatre square

20.00 – 23.00 – Concert of the participants of the gathering of brass-bands „Copper Storms“

Cruise vessel terminal

20.00 – 23.00 – Opening concert of the Sea Festival 2010 „SONGS OF BORN-AT-SEA“

During the concert the winner of the election of the Seafarer of the Year will be announced, the Letters of Honour of the Ministries of Lithuania will be handed to the employees of maritime organizations, the greetings to Navy celebrating its 75th anniversary as well as to the other organizations and companies celebrating anniversaries and to International XLIII „CURONIAN LAGOON“regatta starting during the days of the Sea Festival, will sound. During the event the exhibition „CALLED BY THE SEA“will be opened.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city)

20.00 – 22.00 – The grand opening of International street circus fiesta „THE LAND OF WONDERS“ – presentation of programs and participants of the festival.

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre „BASTION OF OPERA“

20.30 – 21.30 – K.Orfas. Cantata „CARMINA BURANA“ (Conductor M.Barkauskas)

Square at „Meridianas“quay (embankment)

21.00 – program for the family of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“ – concert „WHAT A LONG EVENING...“ There take part Neda Malūnavičiūtė, Olegas Ditkovskis, Kostas Smoriginas

Tiltų str.3

21.00 - 23.00 – poetry and pantomime sketch „A Date“ by „A moment`s teatre“

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre „BASTION OF OPERA“

22.00 – 23.00 – Dance performance „FROM FLAMENCO TO JAZZ“

Ferry „Kintai“ (start at Cruise vessel terminal)

22.00 - „KIWI BOAT PARTY“ – disco party on the water with  Djs: The BreezeBloxxx (LIVE), Uncle Roll, Manchini, Sat, Yakoff, Ninoleo (access not free).

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city) - „Švyturys arts` dock“

24.00 – Sea Festival 2010, „AFTERPARTY“.

 

31 July (Saturday)

Žmonės | People by andrius.v.

 

Danė square

8.00 – Folk- art fair.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city)

08.00 – 22.00 – Opening of the gates of „THE LAND OF WONDERS“ - folk-art fair, education yard, creative workshops.

The Danė embankment at the Castle Bridge

8.00 – 12.00 – Fish market – selling fresh fish from the ships.

Lietuvininkų square, Atgimimo square, Mažvydo alley at „Herkus house“, a ground against the bar „Europa“, transport circle at the old market place, a ground at t/c „Topo centras“, square at t/c„Akropolis“, square at t/c „BIG“

10.00 - 11.00 – Orchestras waken the city – the concerts of the gathering of brass-bands „Storms of Orchestras“ in the city squares and the streets.

Cruise vessel terminal

10.00 – 16.00 – Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Lithuanian Navy – an open day on the ships of Lithuanian Navy.

Back-yard of the Exhibition House

11.00 – 12.30 – Readings of children’s writers "ON THE IMAGINATION WAVES“

Šaulių str. – Theatre square

11.00 – 11.30 – the event organized by the association of youth organizations “ROUND TABLE”      „PORT OF YOUTH - KLAIPĖDA“ – theatre parade of participants along the streets of the city. .

Brass orchestras of S.Šimkus conservatoire, Gargždai and Šilute art schools take part in the parade.

Square at „Meridianas“quay (embankment)

12.00 – 14.00 – Children’s painting competition „MY COUNTRY, MY CITY, MY SEA“ organized by Sea Festival 2010 sponsor UAB „Žemaitijos spauda“. The competition is lead by PE „Menų artelė“(Art artel)

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre „BASTION OF OPERA“

12.00 – 14.00 – A.Spadavecchia 2 acts music tale-game „Cinderella“

Old ferry terminal

Sea Festival 2010 „BOSSABALL“ championship (beach volley-ball on inflatable cover)

12.00 – 13.00 – Presentation of Bossaball rules

13.00 – 21.00 – Competition among the guests of the Holiday

The Baltic Sea

12.00 – Launching of wreaths to the sea for those, who perished at sea.

Cruise vessel terminal

12.00 – 13.00 – Concert of national orchestra of handicapped „MUSIC OF COLOURS“.

13.30 – 14.00 – Show of the representatives of FITNESS – body training. The champion of Lithuania and Europe of 2010 among handicapped V.Topol, participants of „Miss Model Fitness“ , and the prize winners of European championship 2010 will  take part in the event.

Theatre square

12.00 – 16.00 – Event, organized by Klaipėda youth organizations association „ROUND TABLE“ – „PORT OF YOUTH - KLAIPĖDA“. Participants of the event: ensembles of  „Vorusnėlė“, „Alkiukai“,Artist`s group „Žuvies akis“, folk-dance ensembles  „A+G“, „Kajakas“, „Läki Tantsule“, teatre groups “Karlsona bagāža” (Parnu), „Rein Laose teatrigrupp“ , „See teatre“.

Tiltų str. 3

19.00 – 21.00 – Collage of changing sketches „ALMOST SACRED INVENTIONS in a „Moment`s theatre" .

 Ethnographic seaside fishermen farm-stead of Lithuanian Maritime Museum

13.00 -17.00 – Fishermen yard holiday „FISH INVENTED SONGS“: jomarkas (fair), fishermen party, presentation of crafts, games.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“(Memel city)

13.00 – 22.00 – Parade along Klaipėda streets of groups and artists of International street circus fiesta „THE LAND OF WONDERS“ and the programs-shows of the participants of the fiesta. Gala event of the evening of International street circus fiesta  „THE LAND OF WONDERS“.

The Danė river between Pilies and Biržos bridges

14.00 – Event of a sailing school „SUOMINIS“ „DANCING SAILS“ in the Dane river.

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

14.00 – 18.00 – program of events of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“ – creative workshops for families – lessons of decoupage and felting, making of sailing boats, weaving of friendship-band, paintings on face.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city) - „Švyturys arts` dock“

14.00 – 22.00 – Selection show of participants for TV3 project „LITHUANIAN TALENTS 2010“.

Lithuanian Maritime Museum

14.30 –  Opening of a movable exhibition „UNDER FLITTERING OF FLAGS TO THE DEPTHS OF SEA” (Estonian Maritime Museum).

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre „BASTION OF OPERA“

15.00 – 17.00 – Concert of  Gargždai children’s music school song studio  "Svirplys";

Lietuvininkų square – Atgimimo square

15.30 - Parade of the participants of the gathering of brass-bands „Copper storms“.

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

16.00 – Concert „YOUNG KLAIPĖDA SINGS“ – an event of „CHILDREN`S ISLAND“.Studio „JAM“, and pupils of J.Karosas music school take part there.

Atgimimo square

16.00 – 20.00 – Sea Festival 2010 gathering of brass bands „COPPER STORMS“marching defile programs and a concert of a joint orchestra

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre „BASTION OF OPERA“

18.00 – 20.00 – Dance performance „LOVE AT SEA“

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

19.00 –jazz music evening – event of  „CHILDREN`S ISLAND“ – „I, MOTHER, FATHER AND JAZZ“. Children`s studio „Keberiokšt“, „Junior city Jazz“, quartet „Rasasera“, „Folk Jazz Project“, „Tuti Fruti“ take part there.

Cruise vessel terminal

19.00 – Opening ceremony of International XLIII “CURONIAN LAGOON” regatta.

Culture Communications Centre yard

20 00 –Event of Klaipėda youth organizations association „ROUND TABLE“ – Concert of the Baltic republics music groups of juniors – groups from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia take part there.

Theatre square

20.00 – „ROKENROLL FIESTA“ –  groups „West coast band“, „Breaze“, „Rebel Heart“, group from Brazil „Bad Luck Bambers“, and „Klaipėda Lindyhop society“ dancers take part there.

Ferry „Kintai“ (start from Cruise vessel terminal)

20.00 – dancing party with the group „Biplan" (access not free)

Cruise vessel terminal

20.00 – A present of Mecene of Sea Festival 2010 AB „Švyturys – Utenos alus“ for the Sea Festival 2010 – a concert „Lagoon of choirs“. The participants of TV Project-competition „Choir wars“ – choirs from Kaunas, Marijampole, Klaipėda, Panevėžys and Šiauliai.

After concert „Lagoon of choirs“  – „HOLIDAY FIREWORK“

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre „BASTION OF OPERA“

20.30 – 23.00 – GALA CONCERT of Lithuanian and foreign opera stars

Tiltų str.3

21.00 - 23.00 –poetry  and pantomime sketch „A Date“ by „A moment`s teatre“

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city) - „Švyturys arts` dock“

24.00 – Sea Festival 2010 „AFTERPARTY“.

 

1 August (Sunday)

758th anniversary of the foundation of Klaipeda

Danė square

8.00 – Folk- art fair.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city)

08.00 – 22.00 - – Opening of the gates of „THE LAND OF WONDERS“ - folk-art fair, education yard, creative workshops.

The Danė embankment at Pilies bridge

8.00 – 12.00 – Fish market – selling of fresh fish from the ships.

Cruise vessel terminal

10.00 – 14.00 – Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Lithuanian Navy – an open day on the ships of Lithuanian Navy.

Curonian Lagoon

11.00 – The start of the 1st phase of International XLIII „CURONIAN LAGOON” regatta.

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

11.00 – 15.00 – – program of events of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“ – creative workshops for families – lessons of decoupage and felting, making of sailing boats, weaving of friendship-band, paintings on face.

 The Dane river (from Jonas hill to Biržos bridge)

11.00 – Sea Festival 2010 regatta of kayaks, canoes and academic rowing, dedicated to 125th anniversary of Klaipėda rowing society.

Theatre square

11.30 – Event dedicated to Klaipėda foundation anniversary „A STROPHE TO KLAIPEDA“.Actors of Klaipėda Drama Theatre read the poems of the most famous Lithuanian poets about Klaipėda.

Old Ferry station

Sea Festival 2010; continuation of „BOSSABALL“ championship (beach volley-ball on inflatable cover.

12.00 – 13.00 – Presentation of Bossaball rules.

13.00 – 18.00 – Competition among the guests of the Festival.

Theatre square

12.00 – 16.00 – Concert of artistic groups of Klaipėda public organizations.

Tiltų str. 3

12.00 – 21.00 – Collage of changing sketches „ALMOST SACRED INVENTIONS“ in a „Moment`s theatre" .

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

12.30 – program of events of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“ – performance for children „CLOWN AND MOUSE MICE ARE GUESTS OF SEA FESTIVAL“.

Ethnographic seaside fishermen farmstead of Lithuanian Maritime Museum

13.00-17.00 - – Fishermen yard holiday „FISH INVENTED SONGS“: jomarkas (fair),fishermen party, presentation of crafts, games.

Territory of „Memelio miestas“ (Memel city)

13.00 – 22.00 – The International street circus fiesta „THE LAND OF WONDERS“ – presentation of programs and closing of the festival.

The Dane river (from Pilies to Biržos bridge)

14.00 - Event of a sailing school „SUOMINIS“  „DANCING SAILS“ in the Dane river.

Castle Museum, Karlas poterne (Pilies str.4.)

14.00 - Discussion ,,COAT OF ARMS OF KLAIPĖDA CITY : NEW AND OLD“

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

14.00 – program of events of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“ – concert „DANCE WITH SEA“. Dance studios „UFO“, Delingo“, Tina dance“, „Plazma“ take part there.

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre  „BASTION OF OPERA“

15.00 – 16.00 – Concert of soloists of G. Jakubėnas modern singing studio (Panevėžys).

Castle museum; Frydrichas poterne

16.00 – Ceremony of presenting of  Master of Culture rings.

Square at „Meridianas“ quay (embankment)

16.00 – program of events of „CHILDREN’S ISLAND“ – Brass orchestra concert of Stasys

Šimkus conservatoire.

Klaipėda Castle place

17.00 – 20.00 – Klaipėda foundation anniversary holiday “STAYING IN THE CITY OF MIDDLE AGES“.

Jonas hill

Marathon of events of Klaipėda State Music Theatre  „BASTION OF OPERA“

18.00 – 19.00 – V.Pupšys –short music histories in two parts „ALSUOTI/BREATHE“.

19.30 – 22.00 – OPERETTA GALA CONCERT with Lithuanian and foreign opera stars. 

Culture Communications Centre yard

20.00 – Pop-music concert. E.Ostapenka takes part.

Cruise vessel terminal 

20.00 – MIKA concert (access not free) 

Theatre square

20.00 – Concert of jazz orchestra „CITY JAZZ BIG BAND” – a present of the organizers of   Kaipėda jazz festival – Inga and Vytautas Grubliauskai to Klaipėda people on the occasion of the city birthday. Head – Karlis Vanags (Latvia).

 

 Se Festival exhibitions and repeated events

 

Klaipėda county I. Simonaitytė public library hall I floor.

 

Exhibition „500 Baltic lighthouses (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kaliningrad – Russia)

 

 

Klaipėda gallery

 

30 July

 

17.30 – Opening of the international exhibition „Miniature in leather“

 

30, 31 July and 1 August

 

 

Lithuanian Maritime Museum – dolphinarium

 

11.30, 13.00, 15.00, 17.00 – dolphin shows

 

31 July, 1, 7 and 8 August

 

 

Lithuanian Maritime Museum - dolphinarium

19.00 – Rock opera „Eglė žalčių karalienė”(Egle the queen of grass snakes) with dolphins. (Studio „GROCK“)

 

 

THE FACES OF

 

KLAIPEDA

 

Long before the Sea Festival opened and long after it will be closed, there is a group of fine people who are working energetically and enthusiastically to promote and present Klaipeda to visitors – the City Guides!

So here they are; Meile, Aura, Ina, Jolanta, Ramune, Stasys and the others who are always ready to welcome you to the city they love and represent in such a brilliant way!

You can order your own sightseeing tour with one of them at www.klaipedainfo.lt

 

Category : Blog archive

Economy at turning point

- Posted by - (0) Comment

 

IS LITHUANIA AT THE

 

TURNING POINT?

 

Dr. Gitanas Nausėda is one of the most famous economists in Lithuania. 

He works as Chief Economist and Advisor to the President of SEB bank. Dr. Nausėda as a professional

specializes in monetary and fiscal policy, forecasts of economic processes and financial markets analysis.

He has made numerous presentations on these issues in a wide range of local and international seminars and conferences.

 

Here is what Dr. Nausėda writes in his latest report, ‘Lithuanian Macroeconomic Review’:

 

Recent trends in industry, transport and other economic sectors make the outlook for 2Q GDP much more promising as compared to the start of 2010. In March 2010, industrial production recorded an increase for the first time in 17 months, by 1 per cent year-on-year, and in April the increase made up 5.5 per cent already. In 2Q 2010, construction sector may turn somewhat more buoyant. It would be naïve to expect significant recovery, but several residential construction projects which were previously temporarily closed-up are back on the stage again. The beginning of 2010 was very favourable for transport companies

(except airlines) which are likely to show increasingly good results over the coming quarters. Managers of domestic trade companies still do not dare to forecast growth this year but are not drown in pessimism anymore. However, tough competition continues driving small retailers out of the market due to sharp price-cost scissors.

Statistical data announced for the first months of 2010 confirms our earlier suggestion that the start of 2010 will look much gloomier than its end for Lithuanian economy. It is not a coincidence that lately most of market participants that forecast development of Lithuanian economy have revised their forecasts up.

 

(full report attached)

 

Category : Blog archive

Miss Marple

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THE VILLAGE VOICE (2)

VilNews started last month a new series of articles under the heading 'The Village Voice'. The articles

are written by a retired Englishman, David Holliday, who for the past fifteen years has lived with

his wife Migle in the village Lapiai 30 km from Klaipeda. Here comes the second in the row of

David's subtle tales and stories from his life out there – so far off the beaten track ...

 

 

Wg Cdr David Holliday joined the British Royal Air Force in 1961.  He trained as a pilot and his first operational tour from 1964 to 1968 was spent flying Victor nuclear bombers carrying the American Blue Steel stand-off missile.  His Cold War targets were in the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine.  In 1968 the British nuclear deterrent was handed over to the Royal Navy and the Blue Steel fleet was disbanded.  After a tour as a flying instructor David returned to Victors, but this time in the Air-to Air refuelling role, again as an instructor.  This was followed by a tour in Moscow as an assistant Air Attaché (74-77).  In 1979 he was posted to France to be the Strike Command liaison officer with the French Air Defence Command.  The next ten years was spent in staff appointments in Human Intelligence.  David’s last tour (92-94) was as the first British Defence Attaché in Vilnius after Lithuania regained its independence.  He retired in 1994 and remained in Lithuania with his wife Migle, who he married in 1993.

 

 

 

 

A letter from Miss Marple

 

Dear Ann,

What a lovely surprise!  I went up the hill yesterday to fetch my mail.  I have a mailbox fixed to the wall of the school right by the entrance to the Dormitory Wing of the school in the village.  I went inside to see the children as I always do and I saw your letter.  The children noticed that it had a „funny“ stamp on it and guessed it was from England.  We opened it together and I read it too them in my stilted Lithuanian and told them that you came to Klaipeda last month on a cruise ship and visited our village on an excursion.  We were all delighted with your kind words and surprised to find your generous cheque for £200.  The children were so excited ! 

I will send the cheque to my UK bank and then take out the money in Litas here and give it to the Headmistress.  It will go onto the „fund for special treats“.  We have several excursions to the village during the summer season, so this year I already have about another £200 in various currencies which I will also give her.  Over the last few years since we started offering the postcards designed by the children, we have averaged £500 per year which pays for outings and equipment for their use, such as a wide screen TV, DVD player, inflatable swimming pool and toys which they can all use.

There are 45 children in the Dormitory Wing, but at the moment there are just twelve.  These are the children who, for one reason or another, cannot go home to their parents.  They stay here all the year round and this is their home.  There are eight girls and four boys and these are the children you see in the photo with me. 

There are about twenty children with special needs and they suffer from Downs syndrome, autism, psychological problems and learning difficulties.  These children are divided into small groups and have their own teachers in class and assistant teachers for the rest of the time.

There is another small group who stay in the dormitory during the week and go home at the weekend and for the long holidays.  These are able children who come for difficult or dysfunctional families.  They attend normal school, but need the additional supervision that the school provides.  Although the dormitory is old and rundown, the children are happy and well cared for.

In total the village school has 150 children, which includes the 45 in the dormitory.  Most of the children come from our village, but a large proportion live in the surrounding villages and come in by public transport or our own new school bus, which arrived last year.  Lapiai is sort of “twinned” with Mikoliskiai, which is a village about 5 km for us.  They have the church and the cemetery, whereas we have the school.  I think we got the better deal!

Lapiai village school caters for children up to tenth grade, what we would call secondary school in England.  They then go for further study or vocational training to our nearest town Gargzdai or Klaipeda.

The village school was built ninety years ago and occupied what is now the dormitory.  The main school was built in 1965 and was completely refurbished three years ago.  Sadly, the dormitory was not included in the project and is in a very poor state of repair and difficult to keep warm in the winter.

However, we do have a brilliant Headmistress who is full of energy and ideas.  She is working on a project to create a regional centre for children in need.  As you can imagine at the moment the dormitory fails to meet many of the EU rules and regulations.  The new project will cater for all these requirements.  Lapiai has the advantage of being in a quiet village, but still within 30 minutes reach of Klaipeda and there is plenty of room to expand on the existing site we already have.  But at the moment in this time of national crisis money is tight.  The money we raise from the children’s postcards and donations from people like you is always very welcome, but falls far short of the £500,000 required for a new centre.

But we live in hope and trust in God.  It may take some time, but it will happen.  Our children are at the bottom of the pile.  And for no fault of their own.  We must give them a helping hand and the opportunity to live a normal life.  It is their right.

Thank you for your help Ann.  I shall always remember you as our Miss Marple!

Sincerely yours,

David

Category : Blog archive

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...
* * *


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...
* * *

* * *
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...
* * *
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...
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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