29 November 2015
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Lithuania today

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Is Lithuania’s national bird getting lazy?
Many storks no longer
bother flying to Africa

Lithuania has the highest density of white storks in the world,
considered the country’s national bird.

Photo: T. Marčiukaitis

A new project will try to identify why the stork has changed migratory pattern. This writes Science Daily. The investigation has been launched by the University of East Anglia. Since the mid-1980s, a steadily increasing number of storks dropped their annual migration from northern Europe to their winter quarters in Africa.

Instead, both Portugal and Spain are now the final winter destinations for many storks, which feed on large open garbage dumps instead of crossing Sahara as they previously did.

The project will follow 15 adult storks in a year using GPS transmitters. The goal is to examine why they have changed their migratory behavior. GPS transmitters will reveal where storks forage for food and what movements they make between feeding areas.

Before 1995 there were only about 1000 wintering storks in Portugal whereas in 2008 there were over 10,000 wintering storks and the number continues to grow.

It is believed that a combination of climate change and the many open dumps that exist both in Portugal and Spain are among the factors why storks have dropped the long winter trip to Africa.

Read more…

25 March is Lithuanian Stork Day! See:

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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By Vin Karnila
See my slide show:
from Vilnius, Lithuania


Every year in every town throughout Lithuania, March starts off with the Kaziukas Fair, a ritual that marks the coming of spring, dedicated to St. Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania. The festival originated in the 17th century, and by the 19th century it had developed into the fair and festival that is now known internationally.

During more ancient times many pilgrims came to Vilnius from various places for the celebration of St. Casimir's Day on the 4th of March which was the day of his passing. After services in the cathedral, the people lingered for a while. And it was this that gave rise to the Kaziukas Fair. Thousands of sellers, buyers and visitors came to these fairs which were held outdoors as they still are today.

I hope you enjoy the slide show of this year’s Kaziuko Mugė I put together for E-Magazine

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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1458 – 1484

The young prince, Casimir
died at the age of 25 on the 4th of March 1484.

St. Casimir, Lithuania's only Saint, is celebrated on the 4th of March (his death day). This celebration is the origin of the nation's annual Kaziukas Fair.

After his death, St. Casimir was so cherished by Lithuanians that stories of his life and miracles quickly went beyond the church walls and spread through the population and became tales and legends, hence no wonder that he has been so much remembered and celebrated, since the 17th Century primarily through the Kaziukas Fair.  

St. Casimir was a true Lithuanian by birth, descending from the famous and respected Gediminaitis clan. The Lithuanian grand dukes Kestutis, Algirdas, Vytautas the Great and others belonged to this family. St. Casimir's father was Kazimieras Jogailaitis who ruled Lithuania (later along with Poland) from 1447.

Kazimieras Jogailaitis married the daughter of Emperor Albrecht II, descended from the Habsburg family. They had six sons and six daughters. Casimir was the second son, born in 1458. He was renowned for a life of great piety, good works and virtue. Upon contracting tuberculosis, he died at the age of 25 on the 4th of March 1484 in the city of Gardinas. He was buried in Vilnius.

Shortly after his death, people started coming in large numbers to visit the holy prince's tomb and pray for intercession with God. His body was associated with numerous miracles and blessings from God. The process to canonize (declare a saint) St. Casimir was begun soon after his death, but for various reasons was delayed until 7 November 1602 when Pope Clement VIII officially proclaimed St. Casimir's feast on the church calendar. It was believed that Casimir had been canonized by Pope Leo X (before 1521) and that Clement VIII merely officially confirmed the fact.

People appealed to their saint at times of various misfortunes. His first miracle is considered to have been his apparition in 1518 at the Dauguva River during the war with Moscow. A large Russian army had assembled and threatened the city of Polotsk. A rather small force of Lithuanians stood to defend the city and fortress. The Lithuanians had to cross the swollen Dauguva River. Unable to find other help, they prayed to the saintly prince to intercede. St. Casimir is said to have appeared to the Lithuanians astride a white horse, wearing a white cloak. He urged the army to fight and rode first into the roaring river. The Lithuanians followed his example, fought fiercely and defeated Moscow's troops. The news of the prince's miraculous apparition and the victory spread throughout the country. The miracle was investigated by bishops of that time and confirmed as authentic. The very fact that St. Casimir came to help in a battle against Lithuania's eternal enemy Moscow elevated him even higher in the eyes of the Lithuanians. The saint became a symbol of the fight against the Russians and Russian Orthodoxy.

Such veneration, so closely linked to anti-Russian feelings, did not go unnoticed by Russia which often occupied Vilnius. Whenever the Russians approached the city, St. Casimir's relics were hidden and taken outside the city; after the danger had passed they were again returned to the church. The Russians made every effort to prevent St. Casimir's veneration; they banned his feast, but were unable to squash the people's enthusiasm. Thousands gathered annually on the 4th of March to pray at the tomb of their beloved saint.

The first church named after St. Casimir was built in Lithuania in the middle or the end of the 16th century near the town Ukmerge. It was built by the Jesuits. At approximately the same time, a church in the saint's honour was built in Vilnius. In Lithuania there are some twelve churches named for St. Casimir.

St. Casimir's Church in the centre of Vilnius is the oldest
Baroque church in Vilnius.

Category : Lithuania today

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Paul Krugman, New York Times:
Is there any country where austerity policies have been a success?

The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has little good to say about the world’s austerity policies that we’ve seen during and after the financial crisis, policies that also were strenuously advocated by Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

Photo: Fred R. Conrad/
The New York Times

In an opinion article in New York Times this week, Mr. Krugman writes:

Today I’d like to talk about the frantic effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded. For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity.

For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity.

And let nobody accuse the austerians of lacking a sense of romance; in fact, they’ve spent years looking for Mr. Goodpain.

Read more…

Category : Front page / Lithuania today

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The 2012 Parliament

Political groups

     Social Democratic (38)
     Homeland Union (33)
     Labour (29)
     Order and Justice(11)
     Liberal Movement (10)
     Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania(8)
     The Way of Courage (7)
     Others (4)

The Seimas of the Lithuanian Republic (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas), or simply the Seimas is the unicameral Lithuanian parliament. It has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in individual constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected by nationwide vote according to proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5%, and a multi-party union at least 7%, of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Latest election









Social Democrats






Increase 13

Homeland Union






Decrease 12

Labour Party







Order and Justice






Decrease 4

Liberal Movement






Decrease 1

Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania






Increase 5

The Way of Courage






Peasant and Greens Union





Decrease 2

Liberal and Centre Union



Decrease 8





Socialist People's Front




Christian Party




For Lithuania in Lithuania




Young Lithuania




Democratic Labour and Unity Party




Emigrants Party




Republican Party




Lithuanian People's Party








Invalid/blank votes






70 (1 to go)


Registered voters/turnout



Source: VRK

Category : Front page / Lithuania today


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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
* * *

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
* * *
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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Love and suicide in Lithuania
By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago, USA

A young Lithuanian policeman is found slumped in the seat of his car shot dead, his weapon clutched in one hand - in his other hand his mobile phone containing a text message he had received: "I love another" (report by psychologist Andrius Kaluginas).

According to the World Health Organization, Lithuania now has the highest suicide rate in the world. Psychiatrists, sociologists, and journalists often link Lithuania's skyrocketing suicide rate to social instability, poverty, high unemployment, and alcoholism.

What has gone largely unnoticed is that one of the leading causes of suicide among people under the age of thirty is unrequited love.


* * *
"Of all that is written, I love only
what a person hath written with
his blood. Write with blood, and
thou wilt find that blood is spirit."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

I edited, wrote a book ...
and felt it had to be called

I am Mindaugas Peleckis, a Lithuanian writer, journalist, music and mythology researcher, and I believe it's fair to say that this book was really written in blood.

This metaphor came to me while listening to MK9 in Vilnius, 2014, when Michael Contreras let the blood go down his wrists and marked his manifesto with it. This made a big impression on me, investigating music and philosophy at the time.

At that moment, everything became clear to me: all the people who talked to me, all the music I listened to, all the mythologies - everything comes from blood, or it's nothing at all.

The main aim of the book is therefore to show modern mythologies from different backgrounds, and highlight that we are all blood's creatures.

I chose to present interviews and other material about people from around the world - including the post-Soviet bloc (Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland), Europe (Ireland, Sami lands, Finland, UK, Austria, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Greece), the USA, and Asia (Malaysia). Not all people who talk here and give us their "blood" are musicians: some are philosophers, writers, artists and other interesting people with a unique view of our world.

A special introduction to Written in Blood is provided by Thomas Bey William Bailey, and the book also includes a special epilogue by world famous philosopher and photographer Alphonso Lingis.

Mindaugas Peleckis (born 1975 in Lithuania) has written and published more than a dozen books: first the encyclopedia of Lithuanian rock music (2011), a mythological study, a book on new religious movements,
Poetry, and novels. Educated as a professional journalist and philosopher, he especially tries to investigate modern music which he loves very much. Written in Blood is his first book in the English language. M. Peleckis' independent cultural journal (started in 2012) is also part of his mission to spread a different kind of information available in cultural discourse.

* * *
Greetings from Venezuela!
By Vytenis Folkmanas,
Architect, Cracas, Venezuela

With great joy and enthusiasm I have just received the news that Vilnews will be restarted - now in its second stage. I've been for many years an avid reader of all items on the web page and on the VilNews Facebook pages.

I am constantly sharing the articles with the Lithuanian Community of Venezuela, from where I'm writing and from where I send Aage and his team my best wishes and success in this new release of VilNews

* * *
Greetings from Australia!
By Jura Reilly
Victoria, Australia

Approximately 10,000 Lithuanians arrived in Australia after World War 2 from refugee camps in Germany. Previously, a small number arrived in the 1800s and then later after World War 1. Lithuanian communities were established in the capital cities of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. These cities host the bi-annual Lithuanian Days Festival on a rotating basis. Smaller communities were established in Albury, Brisbane, Canberra, Geelong, Hobart, Newcastle, Perth, and Wollongong.

* * *
Greetings from Texas!
By Bernard Terway,
Texas, USA

When one thinks of Texas, the least expected thing that would come to mind is that there are actually Lithuanians in Texas! It turns out that some of the earliest settlers from Lithuania came to Texas with their Prussian neighbors and established themselves here. Most thought they were German, probably because Texas was highly populated by Germans. Recently, within the past 25 years or so, it has been established that there were Lithuanians among the German population.

Here is a link to a video about them:

There is also a historical marker about the first Lithuanians in Texas:

There are also two large, active groups of Lithuanians, on in Houston, Lithuanian American Community of Houston and one in San Antonio.

* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

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