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Archive for April, 2012

Boston Lithuanian Cultural “Subatvakaris” – 50 years

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Slideshow commemorating 50 seasons of Boston Lithuanian Cultural Saturday evenings (Subatvakaris) and 60 years of the National Lithuanian Society of America, Boston Chapter (Amerikos Lietuvių Tautinė Sąjunga (ALTS)). Background singing from the Vilnius University girls choir Virgo performing during the cultural part of the jubilee program, November 7, 2009, at the South Boston Lithuanian Citizens Association, 368 W. Broadway, South Boston, Massachusetts USA.

The slideshow includes pictures of events and the founders at the Boston Chapter's National Lithuanian Society House at 484 Fourth Street in South Boston, MA from the 1950's to 1980's. After selling the building, and a period of inactivity, the Subatvakaris cultural evenings were revived in the 2000's and are now held at the South Boston Lithuanian Citizens Association, 368 W. Broadway, South Boston, MA.

Draugas article (in Lithuanian),

Category : Front page / Lithuania in the world

I find the whole issue of identity quite fascinating and something that is often underestimated or assumed

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I have been visiting your website and have enjoyed reading the various items. I think it is a very useful resource especially for people of Lithuanian background living outside Lithuania - as it gives them a chance to interact and hear opinions etc. from locals and others.

I like the interviews and the historical info the best - the banter and dialogue can be interesting too - but it can easily get dominated by a personality or two.

But it is a very great thing you are doing and I am very happy to see you seem to have a growing base of advertisers which suggests that the site can be self supporting and even flourish.

I find the whole issue of identity quite fascinating and something that is often underestimated or assumed ... but really is quite important and your site can certainly help to illuminate this issue for Lithuanians living both here and abroad.


Category : Opinions

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Raised growth forecast for Lithuania but no switch to Euro until 2015

SWEDBANK, the largest lender in the Baltic region, raises its 2013 economic-growth forecasts for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, citing a better outlook for global demand.

Estonia’s economy will probably expand 4.2 percent next year, compared with a January forecast of 4 percent, the bank said in an e-mailed report today. Latvia’s economy may grow 3.5 in 2013, while Lithuania’s gross domestic product may expand 4.3 percent, it said.

The bank also raised Latvia’s 2012 growth forecast to 2.5 percent from a previous estimate of 2 percent, the report said.

Swedbank also said Lithuanian chances to qualify for euro adoption as planned in 2014 have “significantly narrowed” because of consumer-price growth. The country is more likely to switch currencies in 2015, it said.
Category : News

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Invest Lithuania:
Lithuania among the most attractive destinations for shared services and BPO

Former British Ambassador to Lithuania, Mr Simon Butt and Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK, Dr. Oskaras Jusys

Global Shared Services industry experts named Eastern and Central Europe as a most attractive destination for Shared Services (SS) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) for businesses that are looking to relocate their operations to more competitive locations.

Experts from the UK and the United States gathered to share views on current trends in the global shared service and BPO industry at a reception hosted by Invest Lithuania, at the new premises of the Lithuanian Embassy in London on April 17.

Associate Director and Corporate Location Consultant of Jones Lang LaSalle, Mr. Alex Ash noted that businesses are rebalancing their business services portfolios globally. Ms Cynthia Pasky, founder, president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3), highlighted that People, Price and Proximity are key criteria for relocating operations. She remarked that rising labour costs, retention, quality, and distance to client, both cultural and physical, have emerged as factors challenging Asia’s traditional advantages as a destination for relocating services centres.

Mr Adrian Hall, Strategic Lead at Barclays Bank PLC, noted that Barclays Bank initially planned in 2010 to recruit around 250 employees for its strategic IT engineering centre in Lithuania, but has since taken on some 700 IT professionals. He said Barclays is very satisfied with the great talent pool, cost-effectiveness and the geographical and cultural proximity of Lithuania to the UK.

The former British Ambassador to Lithuania, Mr Simon Butt and the Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK, Dr. Oskaras Jusys, agreed that with its highly skilled and multilingual talent, low operating costs, physical and cultural proximity to Western and Northern Europe, Eastern Europe is emerging as a strong competitor with Asia in terms of attracting Shared Service as well as BPO investments.
Category : News

Would you like to join me to the Lithuanian Cultural Garden in Cleveland?

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Linas Johansonas, Editor-in-Chief

Linas Johansonas, chief editor of Ltnews, think we were too negative in our article about the tomb of President Smetona, where we used the title "No flowers for Smetona." Linas believes that the tomb is visited and honoured by many. To convince us of this, he invited me to Cleveland so I can see with my own eyes.

He also thinks there is more I should do while in Cleveland…


Aage, after you visit President Smetona's grave in Cleveland, make sure you visit Cleveland's historic Lithuanian Cultural Garden :)

Lithuanian Cultural Garden in Cleveland Ohio

The Lithuanian Cultural Garden was dedicated October 11, 1936.

Lithuanian Cultural Garden in Cleveland Ohio
Photos from the Lithuanian Cultural Garden in Cleveland Ohio - statues of Vincas Kudirka, Pillars of Gediminas, Jonas Basanavicius, Fountain of Biruta , Maironis

Checkout some of my photos from the LT garden in this photo album

Photos by: Linas Johansonas
By: Linas Johansonas

Friends of the Lithuanian Cultural Garden of Cleveland
"One of Cleveland's Cultural Gardens, sponsored by its foreign born citizens. The Lithuanian Cultural Garden is laid out in the form of a huge lyre, which symbolizes the Lithuanians' love for music. The stone work depicts three stages of Lithuanian history. The bust in the center is that of Dr. Jonas Basanavicius, Lithuanian liberator."The Lithuanian Cultural Garden also features busts of Maironis (poet/writer) and Vincas Kudirka (author of Lithuania's national anthem), the Pillars of Gediminas (Gedimino Stulpas), and a fountain dedicated to Lithuania's Grand Duchess Birute.Dedicated in October 1936, the Lithuanian Cultural Garden extends from East Boulevard down three levels to Martin Luther King Boulevard. According to Clara Lederer, in Their Paths are Peace , the "original design was drawn up in Lithuania by Professor Dubinecras, and was modified to fit the boulevard topography by the City Plan Commission of Cleveland." The Lithuanian Cultural Garden’s choices of sculpture reflects how much questions of national identity played into the construction of many of the gardens. ~Dr.M.Tabeau

After you visit the LT Gardens, you can stop at the Lithuanian Club at the Lithuanian Community Center for a Svyturys…

Lithuanian Community Center - Cleveland, Ohio

Category : Front page / Lithuania in the world

During the first three months of this year the number of passengers at Vilnius International Airport on the average grew by 64.3 percent !

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During the first three months of this year the number of passengers at Vilnius International Airport (VIA) on the average grew by 64.3 percent. This March the VIA serviced 142 thousand passengers – 17.5 percent more than in February and as much as 56.5 percent more than in March 2011.

2277 flights were performed last month, which makes up for 8.5 percent increase compared to the same period last year. London, Frankfurt, Riga and Copenhagen were amongst the most popular destinations.

“The results of the first quarter set a good start for the aviation summer season which commenced 25 March. So far we can see that Vilnius International Airport growth plans are being successfully implemented. During the summer season as much as 5 new airlines will be operating on 11 new routes,” – Minister of Transport and Communications Eligijus Masiulis commented on the VIA performance.

Good performance is the result of successful operation of traditional airlines and growing demand in low-cost carriers’ services. One of the companies which serviced the largest number of passengers in March is Lufthansa. The airline celebrated its 20th anniversary at VIA and by offering two daily flights to Frankfurt serviced almost 13 thousand passengers per month. Scandinavian Airlines also demonstrated excellent results for March with 10.5 thousand passengers and helped to keep Copenhagen amongst the top destinations of Vilnius International Airport. Excellent results were demonstrated by the airline airBaltic which offered flights to Riga and serviced 12.5 thousand passengers.

Direct connection with Milan and London introduced last year proved to be highly successful – these destinations were chosen by 8 thousand and 16.5 thousand passengers, respectively. The popularity of these destinations contributed to the successful performance of low-cost carriers – in March WizzAir serviced 25.5 thousand passengers and Ryanair – almost 30 thousand passengers.

During the summer season Vilnius International Airport will offer flights to 31 cities and 36 airports. 40 direct regular flights shall be operated from Vilnius. 21 airlines shall be offering regular flights during the summer season.

Category : News

No flowers for Smetona

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Ohio crypt holds remains of first Lithuanian President,
yet he has been forgotten here in a Mausoleum tucked
away in a Catholic Cemetery east of Cleveland, USA.

By Frank Passic

There are no flowers at his crypt, although the Mausoleum is filled with them on the vaults of others nearby. He was the President, yet you would not know that by reading the simple inscription found upon his nameplate. His image was on a coin, a banknote, various stamps and medals. Yet he has been forgotten here in a Mausoleum tucked away in a Catholic Cemetery east of Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

His body has already been moved once since his death. But his remains haven’t been taken back to Lithuania since Lithuanian independence was restored, unlike the remains of his counterpart, President Kazys Grinius’ were. So his remains lay here in Ohio, far away from the country he loved and served.

Read more…

Category : Front page

No flowers for Smetona

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Ohio crypt holds remains of first Lithuanian President,
yet he has been forgotten here in a Mausoleum tucked
away in a Catholic Cemetery east of Cleveland, USA.

By Frank Passic

There are no flowers at his crypt, although the Mausoleum is filled with them on the vaults of others nearby. He was the President, yet you would not know that by reading the simple inscription found upon his nameplate. His image was on a coin, a banknote, various stamps and medals. Yet he has been forgotten here in a Mausoleum tucked away in a Catholic Cemetery east of Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

His body has already been moved once since his death. But his remains haven’t been taken back to Lithuania since Lithuanian independence was restored, unlike the remains of his counterpart, President Kazys Grinius’ were. So his remains lay here in Ohio, far away from the country he loved and served.

He was Antanas Smetona (1874-1944), the first and fourth President of the Republic of Lithuania. A writer and journalist by profession, Smetona was active in the Lithuanian National Movement. He was a member of the Lithuanian National Council and one of the signers of the Lithuanian Declaration of Restoration of Independence in 1918. He was a member of the Nationalist Party, and his regime was in power until the 1940 Soviet invasion. Smetona was able to successfully flee Lithuania when the USSR invaded the country on June 15, 1940, being the only President to do so from among the three Baltic Republics.

Smetona eventually was allowed to settle in the United States as a private citizen, and delivered speeches on national radio and to communities to promote Lithuanian independence. His untimely death from smoke inhalation occurred as a result of an overheated furnace at his Cleveland home on January 9, 1944. Dignitaries filled St. John’s Cathedral in Cleveland for the funeral on January 13. Eight Cleveland mounted police, led by an office, formed an honorary guard which escorted the corpse to the church and stood sentinel with the Lithuanian flag lowered during the services. Bishop Edward F. Hoban led the solemn pontifical requiem mass, with Chicago’s Rev. A. M. Linkus preaching the funeral. Smetona’s remains were then interred in the Knollwood Mausoleum until 1975.

President Antanas Smetona is now interred in the Crucifixion Mausoleum in All Souls Cemetery, located at 10366 (office at 103400) Chardon Road, Chardon Township in Geauga County, Ohio, zip code 44024. The Mausoleum is located in Section 23, and Smetona’s crypt is No. 103. His wife Sofija (1885-1968) is interred next to him on the right. For the official record, the GPS location of this Mausoleum is  North 41 degrees, 35 minutes, 600 seconds by West 081 degrees, 16 minutes, 208 seconds.


In 2006 Lithuanian Numismatic Association member Lou Merkys paid a visit to Smetona’s resting place and took several photographs at the site which we are sharing here with our readers. The Mausoleum is filled with many flowers that have been placed on the faceplates of vaults of the deceased, but no flowers have been placed on those of the Smetonas.



Numismatists are quite familiar with Smetona’s image on the obverse of the 1938 10 litas coin (KM-84) commemorating the 20th anniversary of independence. The obverse features Smetona’s image, facing left. The legend translates, “State President A. Smetona, 10 Litas.” The reverse depicts the Columns of Gediminas emblem in the center, with the text translating, “Lithuania 1918-1938, Twenty Years of Independence.” The inscription on the edge translates, “In Unity Lies the Strength of the Nation.” This coin was struck in 75% silver, and measures 32 mm. in diameter.


This was the last coin issued by the Republic of Lithuania before the Soviet invasion. Designed by sculptor Juozas Zikaras, it is also one of the most popular and scarcest of the pre-War series of 14 coins. Only 170,000 were minted at the Mint of Lithuania in Kaunas. When the coins were released into circulation, they immediately had a collector’s value of 12 litas’.

1 The Lithuanian Mint also struck an example of the coin in gold in the summer of 1938 and presented it to the Lithuanian President.

2 This coin had a limited circulation period. When the Soviet’s invaded Lithuania two years later, anything with the image of President Smetona became a special target, and was outlawed.  One graphic account  by J. Yuknis, Jr. states:

3 When the Russian army occupied Lithuania on June 15, 1940, Moscow ordered destroyed every item with a portrait of President Smetona. On June 19, people were ordered to turn those coins in within one week’s time to the bank, or post office, or police. Rumors were circulating that if such a coin would be found in possession of anybody, there might be a death penalty. Frightened people stood in line at designated places to deliver those ‘capitalistic’ coins. Naïve Russians wanted to erase the name of that great President of Lithuania from pages of history. But they failed…Russians murdered all the philatelists in Lithuania, when their NKVD found some Smetona stamps in their stamp albums. That is a fact!”

Plans were also made in 1938 to strike a new 2 litas coin, bearing the image of Smetona. Dies were prepared and the Brussels Mint in Belgium, and patterns were struck there, both in silver and bronze. These measured 23 mm. in diameter. The master dies were then shipped to the Mint of Lithuania in Kaunas. The bust of Smetona  on the 1938 2 litas patterns feature the President wearing a suit coat, while the image on the 10 litas coin did not. One version had the 20th anniversary year theme on the reverse with a Columns of Gedminas emblem, while another version used the traditional Vytis emblem. In any event, this coin was not approved in time for it to be struck, due to the rapidly deteriorating political situation in Europe.


Although there are no flowers at Smetona’s interment site in Ohio, the website allows people to leave “virtual flowers” and notes on his burial memorial there. I will be writing specifically about this website in a future article. For now however, on the main page on the left, click on “Famous Grave Search.” Type in “Antanas Smetona” in space provided and click “Search.” You’ll then see his name on the left. Click on his name and you’ll get his listing. You can leave your flowers and notes for Smetona there.


1. Karys, Jonas K. Nepriklausomos Lietuvos Pinigai, Aukselis, New York, 1953, pg. 205.
2. Ibid., pg. 206.
3. Yuknis, J. Jr. “Lithuanian-Americana: The Last President of Lithuania,” American-Lithuanian Philatelic Specialist. June 1948, pg. 20. 

Category : Historical Lithuania / Lithuania in the world

The book, “1939, The Year that Changed Everything in Lithuania’s History” reveals the unflattering response by the top leadership, their abdication, and flight from the nation, leaving the population defenseless… without any responsible and effective resistance… as if independence never happened

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Go to our Section 5 to participate in the discussion

Book author: Sarunas Liekis

In a commentary to our VilNews article series "Lithuania and the Soviet Union 1939-1940" (Section 10 - HISTORICAL LITHUANIA) Tony Mazeika from Mission Viejo in California writes the following:

"It is necessary to read the full account of Lithuania's leadership response to Soviet demands and occupation in 1940. The book, "1939, The Year that Changed Everything in Lithuania's History", Arnas Liekis, reveals the unflattering response by the top leadership, their abdication, and flight from the nation, leaving the population defenseless...without any responsible and effective resistance. It's as if independence never happened. Lithuania, together with Latvia & Estonia, make no formal military resistance knowing that Finland fought in 1939-1940 and survived a Soviet onslaught. Much more need to be disclosed about those "patriots" who chose to run rather than fight for their nation."

Tony Mazeika
Category : Opinions

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Our VilNews Associate Editor, Vin Karnila, has edited the four articles we have presented on the topic "Lithuania and the Soviet Union 1939-1940" from the personal memoirs of Juozas Urbšys. Here is his response to Mr. Mazeika's commentary:
Easy to say that they should have organized formal Military resistance – and get slaughtered

Vin Karnila

I would like to thank you Mr. Mazeika for sharing your thoughts with us and making us aware of what I'm sure is a very interesting book written by Arnas Liekis.

You bring up a topic that has been discussed many times throughout the years following 1940. The members of the Lithuanian delegation that were involved in the negotiations with Russia have always claimed that they knew that Russia at any time they chose could have invaded Lithuania. They also felt that if Russia did in fact invade, whether there was organized military resistance or not, this would result in catastrophic consequences for Lithuania and its people. Throughout the negotiations they said that what they were trying to achieve was the best possible outcome for Lithuania. In the end what they achieved was the best possible outcome that Russia would allow.

The topic of the courageous people of Finland and their organized military resistance to Russia's invasion of their homeland in relation to the fact that Russia's invasion of Lithuania in 1940 occurred without a shot being fired has also been discussed many times. The question remains how much did Lithuania know or did not know about Finland's armed resistance to Russia in what is known as the "Winter War"?

3 October 1939 the Lithuanian delegation flew to Moscow to begin the negotiations with Russia. 30 November 1939 Russia attacked Finland to begin the "Winter War". By March of 1940 both sides began to negotiate a peace treaty. Did Lithuania know that in spite of the great courage of the Finns the primary factor in Finland's success was that the Winter War was fought in some of the harshest of winter weather conditions and in equally harsh terrain? This harsh terrain the Finns knew like the back of their hand and the weather conditions to them was normal winter weather? Did Lithuania know that if Russia attacked across the gentle rolling hills and flat farmlands of Lithuania in spring or summer that the advantage of weather and terrain, that so greatly helped the Finns, would only make Russia's evil task easier? An invasion of Lithuania by Russia in the spring or summer of 1940 would have been a military situation completely the opposite of the Finland's and Russia's Winter War. Did Lithuania know that whatever peace agreement Finland and Russia came to that it would end up being short lived? Had Lithuania taken notice of the fact that no Western power had come to Finland's aid with any meaningful support? From all reports, Lithuania realized that their Military, no matter how courageously they fought, was no match against the might of Soviet Russia's army.

Many comments have been made and questions asked about the large number of government and Military top officials that left after 15 June 1940. Why didn't they stay? Why didn't they stay and resist? How could they leave their homeland? I would say that the real answers to these questions can only be answered by these top officials that left. Some left almost immediately as if they knew what would happen once Russia occupied the country. Others left after they saw what Russia was doing now that they occupied the country. In fact many people that had the means to do so left once they understood what their future would be at the hands of Russia.

All these questions to all these situations I have asked myself over and over. Again and again I come to the conclusion that more than seventy years after these events occurred, while I'm sitting in the comfort of my home and while I can walk the streets of Vilnius without (for the time being) having to worry about being run over by a Russian tank, shot by a Russian soldier, kidnapped by the NKVD, put in a gulag or executed, I am really not in a position to judge people who were trying to do the best they could for our country and simply trying to survive during very difficult and dangerous times. I guess it could be kind of easy for some to say that they should have organized formal Military resistance – and got slaughtered. It could also be easy for some to say that the top officials and the people of means should have stayed – and got executed, imprisoned, put in gulags or sent to Siberia. Personally I can't judge these people for their actions because I wasn't alive then and I wasn't involved in these dangerous and difficult times. I also refuse to be a "Monday morning quarterback" and go on and on talking about all of the "should haves" for the same reasons I just stated. The opinions of others about these matters though are something I am very interested in.

Having said all this I must say that the discussion of what happened, what did not happen, why it did happen and why it didn't happen during these times are matters that will continue to occupy my thoughts – I'm still trying to understand and make sense of all of it. Again I would like to thank you Mr. Mazeika for sharing your thoughts with all of us and I would also like to thank you for letting us know about the book by Arnas Liekis - 1939, The Year that Changed Everything in Lithuania's History. I'm sure that I am not the only one out there looking for more information about this period of Lithuania's history and I'm sure that I'm not the only one looking for more information about this so that I can try to make more sense of everything.

Dear readers, I'm sure that Mr. Mazeika and I are not the only ones out there that are interested in what happened during these times and we are not the only ones with opinions. We would please invite you to share information and your opinions on this topic with all our readers throughout the world. I'm sure this is something we all are trying to understand better.

Su pagarbe
Vin Karnila
Associate editor

Category : Opinions

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Our VilNews Board Member, Vladas Lasas, awarded the Oslo Business for Peace Prize

The Business for Peace Foundation and the International Chamber of  Commerce (ICC) have announced the seven recipients of the 2012 Oslo Business for Peace Awards, the highest form of recognition that can be bestowed upon a person in business.

Ibrahim Abouleish (Egypt), Anil Agarwal (India), Eduardo Eurnekian (Argentina), Vladas Lasas (Lithuania), David W. MacLennan (USA), Reginald A. Mengi (Tanzania) and Latifur Rahman (Bangladesh) will receive their Awards during a special ceremony on 7 May, taking place as part of the Oslo Business for Peace Summit in Oslo City Hall, Norway.

Recipients are selected by The Award Giving Committee, comprising Muhammad Yunus (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006), and A Michael Spence (winner of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in  Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2001). 

Usually awards are assigned to one person - but it's always recognition of the great people and great teams around them.

Category : News


Have your say. Send to:

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?

* * *

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.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

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

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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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
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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
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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.

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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,

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.

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Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

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