23 February 2018
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Lithuania today

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24 NOV – 26 DEC 2012

Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city and former capital, is receiving much attention in VilNews now as 2012 is coming to an end. We focus on history, business, culture, innovation, tourism and more. We would also like to hear from you who have a personal Kaunas story.

Send us your Kaunas story! 



Kaunas – the feel of
traditional Lithuania

Vilniaus gatve (above), the Kaunas Old Town’s main street, was back in the
13th century a highway linking the city with Vilnius.  

KAUNAS OLD TOWN has a lot of surviving Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Many notable buildings and facilities are located here, such as the Kaunas Town Hall, the Kaunas Castle and the Historical Presidential Palace, House of Perkūnas, also the Kaunas Cathedral, the Church of St. Gertrude, Vytautas' church and many other churches. Great variety of museums, such as Museum of the History of Lithuanian Medicine and Pharmacy, Povilas Stulga Museum of Lithuanian Folk Instruments, Maironis Lithuanian Literature Museum, Communication History Museum, Museum of Gemology and Kaunas City Museum. The largest seminary in Lithuania - Kaunas Priest Seminary is located at the westernmost part of the Old Town.

Read more at  


Text and photos: Aage Myhre

It was in 1408 that Lithuania’s Grand Duke Vytautas the Great granted Magdeburg rights to Kaunas, and after that point in time this settlement at the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers began to grow as an important centre and main port for Lithuanian trade with Western Europe.

The original settlement, where today’s Kaunas old town is located, was first mentioned by the chroniclers in 1361, and it was here in the old town the first brick castle was built by the end of the 14th century, to defend Kaunas from the Crusaders’ attacks.

Kaunas castle is the oldest masonry castle in Lithuania. It was first mentioned in documents in year 1361

In 1441, Hansa merchants opened an office in Kaunas, and this marked the beginning of a very dynamic growth for the town. By the end of the 16th century, Kaunas had its first school, public hospital and chemist shop, and was fast becoming one of the most developed towns in all the huge Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

However, during the 17th and 18th centuries, Kaunas was to travel through a long period of hardship and hostility, not least because of attacks by the Russian army in 1655, the Swedish march to Russia in 1701, plagues in 1657 and 1708, as well as devastating fires in 1731 and 1732.

At the end of the 18th century, the fortunes of Kaunas revived a little but only until 1812, the year that saw Napoleon's army cross the Nemunas River in Kaunas on their path to Vilnius and later Russia. Heading towards the end of the 19th century, Kaunas experienced several major developments that helped it back onto a path of prosperity and growth; developments such as the opening of the Oginsky canal connecting the Nemunas and Dnieper rivers; the railway connecting the Russian Empire and Germany that was built in 1862, and the opening of the first power plant in 1898.

Napoleon's Army Crossing the Nemunas at Kaunas 24 June 1812
Wood carving. Artist: Dž. Bagetti. Carver: I. Klauberis

The First World War stemmed the further development of Kaunas mainly because of the Tsar occupation, which meant Kaunas lost its independence until 1919. With Vilnius occupied by Russia in the same year, the State Council and Cabinet of Ministers moved and established themselves in Kaunas. The following years, with Poland occupying Vilnius, Kaunas became the capital and the most important city of Lithuania governed by its first Burgomaster, Jonas Vileisis; a period considered by many as the golden age of the city. In 1920, the national parliament (Seimas) gathered in Kaunas and laid the basis for the country's legal and parliamentarian system. Over the next few years Kaunas once again experienced rapid economic and industrial growth and a significant increase in population. In 1924 the first buses appeared in Kaunas, and in 1928 plumbing was installed in most of the city's buildings.

After the Second World War, Kaunas suffered further during the forty years of Soviet occupation, as many buildings and signs of Lithuanian independence were demolished or removed. One of the world’s first public protests against the Soviet rule was in 1972, when a young man, Romas Kalanta, set himself on fire in the square in front of the Musical Theatre of Kaunas. In 1988, upon the rising of the liberation movement, many city sights were revived: streets and museum names were returned, and many monuments of independence times were restored.

1972, the event has attracted high-profile across the Atlantic.
One of the world’s first public protests against the Soviet rule was in 1972, when a young man, Romas Kalanta, set himself on fire in the square in front of the Musical Theatre of Kaunas.

Since independence, Kaunas has established close links to western countries and companies, and with Lithuania having one of the fastest economic growth rates of the new EU member states, Kaunas has most certainly been one of the powerhouses of industry that has helped produce such an impressive economic climate in the country today. Kaunas has come a long way and it shows no signs of slowing down!

The excellent location of Kaunas in the very centre of Lithuania is certainly one of its main advantages, situated as it is on the crossroad of the main Lithuanian transport flows. Two main highways cross the city - Via Baltica, which connects Helsinki and Warsaw, and the highway that connects Vilnius and the port city of Klaipeda. A more an more important international airport is contributing to Kaunas’ attractiveness as the point that connects Lithuania to the world.

The long traditions of higher education is today being actively utilised as a base for Kaunas new profile as “the intelligent city” with special focus on areas like IT and development of companies, research institutions and programmes that support a dynamic and innovative economy.

The basketball team Žalgiris with its famous player Arvydas Sabonis, as well as other baskeball and other sports have put Kaunas on the world map

Kaunas is the second biggest city in Lithuania with the total area of 155.5 sq. km. and a population of approximately four hundred thousand.

The today’s Kaunas old town is a fascinating combination of archaeology, architecture and history. Here one finds the remains of a castle dating back to the 13th to 16th centuries standing as evidence of the ancient battles between Lithuania and the knights of the Teutonic Order. Numerous other buildings crowd together in a stimulating mixture of the arts and architecture of different eras. The 15th century produced the church of Vytautas, Saint George's church and the reconstructed Cathedral. City Hall, dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, is surrounded by charming old houses; the Perkūnas (Thunder) House dates back to the 15th century. Some of the city's structures are recognized as representing a distinct variation of the Northern European Renaissance style, notably the Church of the Holy Trinity and the Masalskis Manor complex (16th to 18th century).

The most outstanding baroque monument is the Paxaislis monastery, a collection of buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. This is among the most lovely examples of ecclesiastical architecture in Northern Europe, unified architecturally by its hexagonal design and a majestic cupola, with its façade proportioned according to the principles of Italian baroque, and its interior decorated with subtly coloured frescoes and statues.

Kaunas is a city of very old and established cultural traditions and a place where generations of Lithuanian artists, composers and writers lived and have left their imprint. Their works are on display in various museums and galleries, of which two are especially notable. The Art Gallery of M. K. Čiurlionis displays the work of this great painter and composer, who earned his place in the history of art.

It is possible to review Lithuania's history from its prehistory to the present day, at the Military Museum of Vytautas the Great. Among the most interesting exhibits is a memento of an early transatlantic flight - a wreck of the "Lituanica." In this plane, two pioneering Lithuanian aviators, Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas, flew non-stop from New York in 1933, sadly crashing in German territory, not far from their final destination in Lithuania.

Kaunas is Kaunas!


Some Kaunas images

Photos: Aage Myhre

The Town Hall of Kaunas (Lithuanian: Kauno rotušė) in the Town Hall Square, also called "The white swan". The structure dates from the 16th century.  Today used for wedding ceremonies and official events.
Read more at,_Kaunas 












Category : Lithuania today

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Independent Lithuania

After Vilnius was occupied by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1919, the government of the Republic of Lithuania established its main base in Kaunas. Later, when the capital Vilnius was forcibly annexed by Poland, Kaunas became the temporary capital of Lithuania,a position it held until 28 October 1939, when the Red Army handed Vilnius back to Lithuania. Here a picture from the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania in Kaunas,
around 1930

At the end of World War I the Germans allowed the Vilnius Conference (18–22 September 1917) to convene (elections for a formal representative assembly were not permitted), demanding that Lithuanians declare loyalty to Germany and agree to an annexation. The Conference instead announced basic principles of a limited in territorial scope, but independent ethnic Lithuanian state, with cultural rights for the minorities; accordingly, the publication of the Conference's resolution was not allowed. The Conference elected a 20-member Council of Lithuania (Taryba) and empowered it to act as the executive authority of the Lithuanian people. The Council declared on 11 December Lithuanian independence as a German protectorate, and then adopted the outright Act of Independence of Lithuania on 16 February 1918. It proclaimed Lithuania as an independent republic, organized according to democratic principles. The Germans, still present in the country, did not support such a declaration and hindered attempts to establish actual independence. To prevent being incorporated into the German Empire, Lithuanians elected Monaco-born King Mindaugas II as the titular monarch of the Kingdom of Lithuania in July 1918. Mindaugas II never assumed the throne.

In the meantime, initially also under the German occupation, an attempt to revive the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a socialist multinational federal republic took place. Anton Lutskevich and his Belarusian National Council proclaimed in March 1918 the Belarusian People's Republic, which was to stretch from the Baltic to the Black Sea and include Vilnius. Lutskevich and the Council fled the approaching Red Army and left Minsk before it was taken over by the Bolsheviks in December 1918. Upon their arrival in Vilnius, they proposed a Belarusian-Lithuanian federation, which however generated no interest on the part of the Lithuanian leaders, who were in advanced stages of promoting national plans of their own. The Lithuanians were interested only in a state "within ethnographic frontiers", as they perceived it.

Germany lost the war and signed the Armistice of Compiègne on 11 November 1918. Lithuanians quickly formed their first government, led by Augustinas Voldemaras, adopted a provisional constitution, and started organizing basic administrative structures. As the German army, defeated in the West, was withdrawing from the Eastern Front, it was followed by the Soviet forces, whose intention was to spread the global proletarian revolution. They created a number of puppet states, including on 16 December 1918 the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. By the end of December the Red Army reached Lithuanian borders, starting the Lithuanian–Soviet War.

On 1 January 1919 the German occupying army withdrew from Vilnius turning the city over to local Polish self-defense forces. The Lithuanian government evacuated Vilnius and moved west to Kaunas, which became the temporary capital of Lithuania. Vilnius was captured by the Soviet Red Army on 5 January 1919. As the Lithuanian army was in its infant stages, the Soviet forces moved largely unopposed and by mid-January 1919 controlled about ⅔ of the Lithuanian territory. Vilnius was now the capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Republic, and soon of the combined Lithuanian–Belarusian Soviet Republic.

From April 1919, the Lithuanian–Soviet War went parallel with the Polish–Soviet War. Polish troops captured Vilnius from the Soviets on 21 April 1919. Poland had territorial claims over Lithuania, especially the Vilnius Region, and these tensions spilled over into the Polish–Lithuanian War. Józef Piłsudski of Poland, seeking a Polish-Lithuanian federation, but unable to find common ground with Lithuanian politicians, in August 1919 made an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Lithuanian government in Kaunas.

In mid-May the Lithuanian army, commanded by General Silvestras Žukauskas, began an offensive against the Soviets in northeastern Lithuania. By the end of August 1919, the Soviets were pushed out of the Lithuanian territory. The Lithuanian army was then deployed against the paramilitary West Russian Volunteer Army, who invaded northern Lithuania. They were Germany-reactivated and supported German and Russian soldiers who sought to retain German control over the former Ober Ost. West Russian Volunteers were defeated and pushed out by the end of 1919. Thus the first phase of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence was over and Lithuanians could direct attention to internal affairs.

The Constituent Assembly of Lithuania was elected in April and first met in May 1920. In June it adopted the third provisional constitution and on 12 July 1920 signed the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty. In the treaty the Soviet Union recognized fully independent Lithuania and its claims to the disputed Vilnius Region; Lithuania secretly allowed the Soviet forces passage through its territory, as they moved against Poland.

On 14 July 1920, the advancing Soviet army captured Vilnius for a second time from Polish forces. However, they only handed the city over to Lithuanians on 26 August 1920, following the defeat of the Soviet offensive. The victorious Polish army returned and the Soviet–Lithuanian Treaty increased hostilities between Poland and Lithuania. To prevent further fighting, the Suwałki Agreement was signed on 7 October 1920; it left Vilnius on the Lithuanian side of the armistice line.[58] It had never gone into effect, because Polish General Lucjan Żeligowski, acting on Józef Piłsudski's orders, staged a military action presented as a mutiny. He invaded Lithuania on 8 October 1920, captured Vilnius the following day, and established a short-lived Republic of Central Lithuania on 12 October 1920. The "Republic" was a part of Piłsudski's federalist scheme, which was never to materialize, because of the opposition from both the Polish and Lithuanian (represented now by the Lithuanian government) nationalists. For 19 years, as the Vilnius Region had remained under Polish administration, Kaunas was the temporary capital of Lithuania. The League of Nations attempted to mediate the dispute and Paul Hymans proposed plans of a Polish–Lithuanian union. However, the negotiations broke down as neither side agreed to the compromise. Central Lithuania held a problematic election, boycotted by the Jews, Lithuanians and Belarusians, and was annexed into Poland on 24 March 1922.The Vilnius Region dispute was not legitimately resolved and Lithuania broke all relations with Poland. The two countries were officially at war over Vilnius, the historical capital of Lithuania, inhabited at that time largely by Polish-speaking and Jewish populations, between 1920 and 1938. The dispute continued to dominate Lithuanian domestic politics and foreign policy and doomed the relations with Poland for the entire interwar period.

Democratic Lithuania

The Constituent Assembly, which adjourned in October 1920 due to threats from Poland, gathered again and initiated many reforms needed in the new state: obtained international recognition and membership in the League of Nations, passed the law of land reform, introduced national currency litas, and adopted the final constitution in August 1922. Lithuania became a democratic state, with Seimas (parliament) elected by men and women for a three-year term. The Seimas elected the president. The First Seimas was elected in October 1922, but could not form a government as the votes split equally 38–38, and was forced to resign. Its only lasting achievement was the Klaipėda Revolt from 10-15 January 1923. Lithuania took advantage of the Ruhr Crisis and captured the Klaipėda Region, a territory detached from East Prussia according to the Treaty of Versailles, and placed under French administration. The region was incorporated as an autonomous district of Lithuania in May 1924. For Lithuania it was the only access to the Baltic Sea and an important industrial center. The Revolt was the last armed conflict in Lithuania before World War II. The Second Seimas, elected in May 1923, was the only Seimas in independent Lithuania that served the full term. The Seimas continued the land reform, introduced social support systems, started repaying foreign debt. Strides were made in education: the network of primary and secondary schools was expanded and first universities were established in Kaunas. A national census took place in 1923.

Authoritarian Lithuania

Antanas Smetona, the first and last president of independent Lithuania during the interbellum. The 1918–1939 period if often known as "Smetona's time".

The Third Seimas was elected in May 1926. For the first time Lithuanian Christian Democrats (krikdemai) lost their majority and became an opposition. It was sharply criticized for signing the Soviet–Lithuanian Non-Aggression Pact (Lithuanian claim to Poland-held Vilnius was recognized by the Soviets again)[61] and accused of "Bolshevization" of Lithuania. As a result of growing tensions, the government was deposed during the 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état in December. The coup, organized by the military, was supported by the Lithuanian Nationalists Union (tautininkai) and Lithuanian Christian Democrats. They installed Antanas Smetona as the President and Augustinas Voldemaras as the Prime Minister. Smetona suppressed the opposition and remained as an authoritarian leader until June 1940.

The Seimas thought that the coup was just a temporary measure and new elections should be called to return Lithuania to democracy. The legislative body was dissolved in May 1927. Later that year members of the Social Democrats and other leftist parties, named plečkaitininkai after their leader, tried to organize an uprising against Smetona but were quickly subdued. Voldemaras grew increasingly independent of Smetona and was forced to resign in 1929. Three times in 1930 and once in 1934 he unsuccessfully attempted to return to power. In May 1928 Smetona, without the Seimas, announced the fifth provisional constitution. It continued to claim that Lithuania is a democratic state and vastly increased powers of the President. His party, the Lithuanian Nationalist Union, steadily grew in size and importance. Smetona adopted the title of "tautos vadas" (leader of the nation) and slowly started building personality cult. Many of the prominent political figures married into Smetona's family (Juozas Tūbelis, Stasys Raštikis).

When the Nazi Party came into power in the Weimar Republic, Germany–Lithuania relations worsened considerably as Nazi Germany did not accept the loss of the Klaipėda Region. The Nazis sponsored anti-Lithuanian organizations in the region. In 1934, Lithuania put the activists on trial and sentenced about 100 people, including their leaders Ernst Neumann and Theodor von Sass. That prompted Germany, one of the main trade partners of Lithuania, to declare embargo of Lithuanian products. In response Lithuania shifted its exports to Great Britain. But that was not enough and peasants in Suvalkija organized strikes, which were violently suppressed. Smetona's prestige was damaged and in September 1936 he agreed to call the first elections to Seimas since the coup of 1926. Before the elections all political parties, except the National Union, were eliminated. Thus of the 49 members of the Fourth Seimas, 42 were from the National Union. It functioned as an advisory board to the President and in February 1938 adopted a new constitution, which granted the President even greater powers.

Lithuanian territorial issues 1939-1940

As tensions were rising in Europe following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, Poland presented an ultimatum to Lithuania in March 1938. Poland demanded the re-establishment of normal diplomatic relations, which were broken after the Żeligowski's Mutiny in 1920, and threatened military actions in case of refusal. Lithuania, having a weaker military and unable to enlist international support for its cause, accepted the ultimatum. Lithuania–Poland relations somewhat normalized and the parties concluded treaties regarding railway transport, postal exchange, and other means of communication. Just a year after the Polish ultimatum and five days after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Lithuania received as oral ultimatum from Joachim von Ribbentrop demanding to cede the Klaipėda Region to Germany. Again, Lithuania was forced to accept. This triggered a political crisis in Lithuania and forced Smetona to form a new government which for the first time since 1926 included members of the opposition. The loss of Klaipėda was a major blow to Lithuanian economy and the country shifted to the sphere of German influence. When Germany and the Soviet Union concluded the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 and divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, Lithuania was, at first, assigned to Germany.

Category : Lithuania today

The interwar presidents

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Statutes of the three interwar presidents are placed in the park in front of the Historical Presidential Palace in Kaunas. Picture: Statues of Aleksandras Stulginskis (front) and Antanas Smetona.
Photo: Aage Myhre

After Lithuania re-won its freedom in 1918, a Polish military invasion led to an annexation of eastern Lithuania (including the capital city Vilnius) to Poland. This was never recognized and Lithuania remained at a state of war with Poland, with the new government city Kaunas officially designated the “Temporary capital”. “We won’t calm down without Vilnius” became a popular slogan and organizations like the “Union for the Liberation of Vilnius” sprung up with the Lithuanian-Polish territorial dispute becoming one of the keystones of interwar Lithuania’s policy.
Interwar Lithuania strived to let the world know of its existence. Left is the art deco Resurrection church, built to be the largest church in the Baltics and an important landmark of rapidly expanding Kaunas. Right are Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas, the first Lithuanian pilots to cross the Atlantic (1933). They subsequently died in air disaster, becoming instant martyrs.

The main western powers recognized Lithuania only in 1922 as they preferred a stronger Poland to counter the German and Soviet threats. But by 1922 it was already clear that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth would not be reborn as the Poles ceded many eastern lands to the Soviets in the Treaty of Riga.

Unlike the part of Lithuania that was in the Russian Empire, Lithuania Minor remained under German rule except for its northernmost part, the Klaipėda Region (German: Memelland), which was detached from Germany due to its Lithuanian majority. As the Lithuanian Republic was still unrecognized, Klaipėda Region remained under League of Nations rule. In 1923 Lithuania supported a revolt in Klaipėda Region and the new directory (government) of Edmonas Simonaitis joined Lithuania (as a bilingual autonomous area) thereby giving the young country its only seaport. Together with it came a sizeable German minority which caused trouble in the 1930s when the Nazi ideas caught on among the Germans of Klaipėda Region.

1926 saw a military coup with Antanas Smetona retaking presidential power. He ruled until the end of independent Lithuania, the period thus frequently known as the “Smetonic era”. Lithuania became one of the first authoritarian countries in the Eastern Europe, but by the year 1936 only a few, such as Czechoslovakia, would still remain democratic. 
1926: President Antanas Smetona takes oath before the Catholic bishop.

Interwar Lithuania continued to be an agricultural society with only 20% of people living in cities, therefore it was less heavily hit by the Global Depression, remained a devout Catholic land with the church not disestablished and the birth rates were still high (the population increased by 22% to over 3 million in years 1923-1939 despite the sizeable emigration primarily to the South America).

The foreign policy of Lithuania was friendly to the Germans and Soviets because many other countries, like France or Estonia, supported Poland in the conflict over Vilnius. However, the increasing imperialism of both Germany and the Soviet Union eroded their need for independent Lithuania. In 1939 German ultimatum led to the loss of Klaipėda Region. A secret Molotov-Ribentropp pact protocol included Lithuania in the German zone of influence, but the Smetona’s refusal to invade Poland together with Germany led to the change in the protocol with Lithuania being “ceded” to the Soviet Union. In 1939 Soviet Union established army bases in Lithuania after an ultimatum (this ultimatum also returned 1/5th of Vilnius region, recently occupied by the Soviets during their invasion of Poland), and another ultimatum in 1940 led to a full-scale occupation and annexation.


The interwar presidents

Antanas Smetona

 - President Antanas Smetona

Date and Place of Birth   
August 10, 1874 in a peasant family
Ukmergė county, Taujėnai rural district, Užulėnis village

Married Sofija Chodakauskaitė in 1904, son Julius and daughter Marija

Professional Qualifications                   
Lawyer, Petersburg University, Faculty of Law, 1897–1892

Political, Public, Professional and Cultural Engagement 
Bank clerk in
 Žemės ūkio bankas, 1902–1917
Participant of the Great
 Seimas of Vilnius, 1905
Memberof the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Relief Society for helping victims of the war, 1914–1918
Participant of the Lithuanian Conference in Vilnius, 1917
Head of the Lithuanian Council, later of the State Council, 1917–1919
Signed the Lithuanian Independence Act on February 16, 1918
Became the first President of the Lithuanian State on April 6, 1919
Lecturer of ethics, ancient philosophy and Lithuanian stylistics at the University of Lithuania, 1923–1927
Vice-Chairman of the Board of the International Bank; founder and one of the leaders of a number of societies and companies, 1924–1940
Elected to the 3rd
 Seimas, 1926
Published and edited a number of periodicals; publicized original and translated works on philosophy and other research papers

Party Membership
Member of Lithuanian Democratic Party, 1902–1907
Head of National Progress Party, 1920–1924
Founder, member and Chairman (1925–1926) of Lithuanian Nationalist Union , 1924–1940

In Presidential Office      

April 6, 1919 – June 19, 1920

December 19, 1926 – June 15, 1940 Soviet occupation

After Term of Office
The term was aborted by the Soviet occupation in 1940; therefore, Smetona moved West and settled in the USA
Died in a fire under mysterious circumstances in Cleveland, USA, on January 9, 1944


Alexander Stulginskis

 - President Alexander Stulginskis

Alexander Stulginskis (1885 02 26-1969 09 22)

He was born
in 1885.
 February 26. peasant family 
Taurage, Kaltinėnai district, village Kutalių

in 1920.
 married Hannah Matulaitytė, with whom she had her daughter Aldona

Professional qualifications
agronomist, 1910-1913 m.
 Halle (Germany) Institute of Agronomy

The political, social, professional and cultural activities
Allowed and edited various newspapers, brochures and advice to farmers in organized teaching courses beginning teachers
in 1914-1918.
 Lithuanian Association of victims of war dole member 
in 1917.
 Vilnius Lithuanian conference attendee 
1917-1919 m.
 Council of Lithuania, later a member of the State Council 
in 1918.
 February 16. Lithuania signed the Act of Independence of 
1918 -1919 m.
 II, the Cabinet of Ministers without portfolio 
in 1919.
 III of the Cabinet of Ministers Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs, food and Public Works Minister 
in 1919.
 IVMinistrų office of Agriculture and Minister of State Assets 
in 1920-1922.
 Constituent Seimas, the President, while he was President of 
1926-1927 m.
 III of the Parliament he was Chairman of the Seimas

Membership of political parties
in 1918-1936.
 The Christian Democratic Party

Office of the President 
on 21 December 1922. -1926 June 7.

At the end of this term
after 1927.
 retired from active politics in 
 Soviet authorities exiled to Siberia. 
 sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment, but after 2 years after Stalin's death, released in 1956. returned to Lithuania 
in 1969.
 September 22. died in Kaunas. Buried in the cemetery Panemunė


Kazys Grinius

 - President Kazys Grinius

Kazys Grinius (1866 12 17-1950 06 04)

He was born
in 1866.
 December 17. peasant family 
Marijampolė County, Sasnava district, the village of Budos Selem

in 1896.
 married Joan Pavalkytę, with whom she had a son George and daughter Kazys and Redo in 1918. Wife and daughter brutally murdered soldiers robbing Kislovodsk 
in 1927.
 married Kristina violent, they were born the son of Leo

Professional qualifications
Medic, 1887-1893 m.
 Moscow State University, Faculty of Medicine

The political, social, professional and cultural activities of
the Lithuanian national revival, he wrote and edited various periodicals
in 1917.
 Voronezh Lithuanian Supreme Council of Russia, and member of the President 
 Repatriation Commission Guide 
 Constituent Member of Parliament 
1920-1922 m.VI Cabinet Guide
To 1926.
 December 17. all four of the Lithuanian Parliament member 
in 1922.
 Municipality of Kaunas Medical and Health Department Head, worked here and after 1926. Revolution until 1935. 
various health societies, articles on health and disease author

Membership of political parties
in 1902-1905.
 Lithuanian Democratic Party and founder member of 
1920-1922 m.
 Lithuanian Socialist Peoples Democratic Party 
in 1922-1936.
 Lithuanian Peasants' Association

Office of the President 
in 1926 . June 8. - 1926. December 17. Revolution

At the end of this term
after 1926.
 December 17. coup retired from active political life of the state 
in 1944.
 family emigrated to the West in 
 June 4. died in Chicago 
in 1994.
 remains were transported to Lithuania and bury him at home

Category : Lithuania today

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The Presidential Palace
in Kaunas is a must-see

Read more about the Palace at 
Photo: Aage Myhre

The Historical Presidential Palace in Kaunas is a must-see place for everyone, whether native-born or a visitor to Lithuania. It is one of the most important memorials of the Republic of Lithuania in 1918–1940.

Visitors are offered an introduction into the evolution of modern Lithuanian statehood, the opportunity to feel the pulse of a growing city that suddenly faced the challenge of becoming a capital and rapidly changed from a fortress into a modern city.

The building was at the centre of major political events of the time. It housed the President’s meetings with the Cabinet, as well as numerous meetings with the representatives of foreign countries, military, clergy and various organizations. It was a fundamental landmark of Foreign Policy; emissaries of foreign states here offered their credentials to the President of the Lithuanian Republic. The building also witnessed the Coup d’état of 1926, a crisis of parlamentarism and a turn towards authoritarian regime. In the face of imminent Soviet occupation, the Last Meeting of the government of the independent Lithuania took place here on the night from June 14 to 15 of 1940.

Today the Presidential Palace in Kaunas functions as a memorial-educational institution of Lithuanian modern statehood. The permanent exposition at the Palace reflects the history of the First Republic of Lithuania (1918 – 1940). Periodic temporary exhibitions commemorate outstanding historical figures and events. Many other social and cultural gatherings – such as scholarly conferences, concerts, book presentations, public lectures and meetings with outstanding public persons – are aimed at stimulating discussions about modern statehood and civic society.

Presidential Palace

 - Presidential Palace. Kaunas, 1920s. Property of NČDM
 - Interior (2nd floor) of the Presidential Palace. Kaunas, 1930s. Property of LCVA
 - President Antanas Smetona in the Conference room of the Presidential Palace, ca. 1928. Property of LCVA

The former residence of the President of the Republic of Lithuania

History of the Presidential Palace

  • Construction of the future presidential palace began in the middle of the XIX century.  In 1869 the chancery of the Kaunas provincial administration set itself up here.
  • On February 16, 1918, the Council of Lithuania declared Lithuania an independent state. In 1919 the capital was transferred from occupied Vilnius to Kaunas and the Chancery of the President moved into this former governor’s palace on September 1st.
  • From 1919 to 1940, all three presidents resided in this palace: Antanas Smetona (1919-1920 and 1926-1940), Aleksandras Stulginskis (1922-1926), Kazys Grinius (June-December, 1926).
  • The Last Meeting of the government of the Republic of Lithuanian took place in the Presidential Palace on June 15, 1940.
  • After the Soviet ocupation a Pioneers’ palace was established in the palace; from 1955 on it was the Teachers’ House.
  • After the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990, the palace passed to the Vytautas Magnus War Museum. The building underwent a major restoration.
  • On July 3, 2005, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus officially transferred the Historical Lithuanian Presidential Palace to the M. K. Ĉiurlionis national art museum.  On July 5 the Historical Presidential Palace opened its doors to the public.
Category : Lithuania today

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Kaunas stories from
previous VilNews issues

Former President Valdas Adamkus:
Hiding in the woods near Kaunas

"I thank my friend Gabrielius Žemkalnis, brother of Vytautas Landsbergis, that I’m still alive. In the years of World War II, he and I joined the resistance movement for Lithuania's independence, together with Leo Grinius, by publishing and circulating the underground, anti-Nazi newspaper “Jaunime, budek!” (Youth, Be on Guard!) in Kaunas.

One day, in 1944, I was suddenly visited by Žemkalnis' sister. She said her brother had been arrested by the Gestapo, but that he had managed to whisper my name to her as he was led out of the apartment. She immediately understood that it was something he and I had together that I had to be warned about. I was still only 17 years old, but realized that this could be extremely serious, so I ran to the woods and hid there for a long time. Read more...

Professor Irena Veisaite:
Escaping from the Kaunas ghetto

In August 1941 all the Kaunas Jews were imprisoned in the ghetto which was located in the Kaunas suburb Vilijampole. Irena stayed in the ghetto with her grandparents and one aunt. The 7th of November 1943 is a date Irena will never forget. Lithuanian friends of her parents, the Strimaitis family, had managed to convey a message to her in the ghetto, saying that she should follow one of the labour brigades out of the ghetto to the work place in town. They also had procured false documents for her. An agreement was reached with a Jewish policeman who was responsible for the list of workers that she should not be included on the list that day, but still follow the group out and then try to escape unnoticed into a side street as soon as they passed the ghetto gates. The moment of stepping out of the column of Jewish workers was the most horrifying and dangerous one in young Irena's life. But fortunately she made it without being detected. Read more...

Attorney Regina Narusiene:
Hiding behind a blue Kaunas curtain

“I was almost five years old, but I still clearly remember the day when a truck with Soviet soldiers drove up to our home in Kaunas. My father ordered me to hide behind the blue curtains in the home’s living room and not make even the smallest move or sound. Our family was to be deported to Siberia and the soldiers had come to take us. It felt as though it took an eternity before my father returned and told me I could come out from my hiding place. A truck with German soldiers had come up behind the Soviet truck, forcing the Soviets to leave. That probably saved our lives. As the Soviets were returning to Lithuania in 1944 we escaped to Germany, and after living in Displaced Persons camp for 5 years, in 1949 we emigrated to the United States.” Read more...

Dr. Jonas Sliupas:
Declining the presidency (1926)

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.

Category : Lithuania today / Front page

Triple Helix as model for a Nordic-Baltic vision?

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By Aage Myhre

I believe many of our readers have heard about or even studied the so-called Triple Helix model that emphasizes the need of cooperation and interaction between science, industry and government. I believe this is an extremely interesting model also for a Nordic-Baltic cooperation, as it describes an intensification of a process and a shortening of the time span between discovery and utilization, and increased reliance of industry on knowledge originated in academic institutions.

As knowledge becomes an increasingly more important part of innovation, the university (science and education) as a knowledge-producing and disseminating institution plays a larger role in business innovation. In earlier times, innovation was an activity formerly and largely performed by the industry or government, or depending upon the social system, a bilateral interaction between these two institutional spheres. In a knowledge-based economy, however, the university becomes a key element of the innovation system both as human capital provider and seedbed for new firms. The three institutional spheres (public, private, and academic) – that formerly operated at arms’ length – are increasingly interwoven with a spiral pattern of linkages emerging at various stages of the innovation and industrial policy-making process. Furthermore, in addition to these institutional linkages among spheres, each sphere may take up the role of the other.

A triple helix of university-business-government relations transcends previous models of institutional relationships, whether socialist (No. 1) or laissez-faire (No. 2), in which either the polity or economy predominated and with the knowledge playing a subsidiary role.

Triple Helix 1: The communist model.
An etatist or socialist model of university-industry-government relations
(where the Baltic States were during the Soviet period).


Triple Helix 2: The laissez-faire model.
A laissez-faire model of university-industry-government relations
(where the Baltic States very much are today). 



Triple Helix 3: The Scandinavian model.
This triple helix model is an attempt to account for a new configuration of institutional forces emerging within innovation systems (a stage the Nordic countries to a quite high degree have reached), and I believe this is a good model for joint cooperation and innovation between the Nordic and the Baltic States.


Triple Helix 4: The endless transition model.
Triple Helix no. 4 is one in which the overlay of communications and expectations at the network level guides the reconstructions of institutional arrangements. It is not expected to be stable and the sub-dynamics in the innovation process are continuously reconstructed through discussions and negotiations.  What is considered as ‘industry’, what as ‘market’ cannot be taken for granted. Each ‘system’ is defined and can be redefined as the research project is designed. Thus, the triple helix hypothesis is that systems can be expected to remain in an endless transition.

This model indicates that innovation and cooperation should take place across sectors and country boundaries, for example that a university in Sweden very well could work with a business venture in Lithuania, and I believe the combination of Triple Helix 3 and 4 is a good solution for cooperation and collaboration within the Baltic-Nordic region as this will lead to increased integration and development that will give us advantages ahead of most other regions of the world.

My experience from Lithuania does, however, not make me too optimistic about the situation for cross-sector cooperation. I was, for example, asking the General Director of Omnitel (the leading mobile phone operator in Lithuania) about the situation for higher education within technology. His answer was that one single word would be description enough; „It‘s bad!“

And a few years ago I asked the General Director of the Libra Group (a leading Lithuanian company within wood processing) to tell me what kind of support and help he had from the authorities in his important business. His short answer was: „I don‘t expect anything from them, and I‘m happy as long as they don‘t create problems for me“.

Category : Lithuania today

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Obama is very popular
all over the world

U.S. re-elected president enjoys great confidence around the world. Let us hope that this confidence can contribute to less tension and increased human understanding between peoples and nations over the four years that are now ahead of us.

If the world outside USA had a say, President Barack Obama would have won with very clear margins over Mitt Romney, according to surveys presented in several world news media ahead of the U.S. elections. See below.

Unfortunately, there are no numbers available for Lithuania.

Read more at:


World reactions to Obama’s reelection

From Australia, to China, Egypt and Russia ... hear people say "Obama" in different accents ... and watch some of them offer their more in-depth assessment of his second presidential election win

Viewpoints from around the world on Barack Obama's US election triumph, in which the incumbent democrat president held off the challenge from Republican rival Mitt Romney. The reaction was generally positive on the streets of Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo - though more mixed in countries such as Iraq and Egypt.

Read more…

Category : Lithuania today / Front page

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Lithuanian elections
Yes to stability,
no to austerity

As a relief to many liberal-minded people and human rights activists came the news that Lithuanian voters completely trashed ultra-nationalist parties. The National Alliance “For Lithuania in Lithuania” (whatever that means) tried its best to mobilize the most primitive ethnic hatred, although even a classical antisemitic cartoon they distributed was about economy (the incumbent government's work in returning religious property of Jewish communities, that was nationalized under the Soviet rule). PHOTO: Marius Galinis of the „Union For Lithuania in Lithuania.“ (Lithuanian „Nacionalinis susivienijimas ‘Už Lietuvą Lietuvoje’“)

By Daiva Repečkaitė

The complicated electoral system in Lithuania makes general elections an exciting show. After the first round, when multi-constituency votes were counted, the victory of the populist Labor Party looked clear. However, after the second round (half of the Members of the Parliament are elected in single-seat constituencies), voters brought the traditional rivals, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, ahead of the populist party. Despite the initial panic and hasty criticism of the election outcomes as a victory of populist and pro-Russian forces, the election brought unprecedented gain to traditional parties and strengthened the forces with consistent ideologies. It is also time to understand that economy in Lithuania comes before relations with Russia.

In fact, this election was a real celebration of stability, nothing like 2004, when voters flocked to newly established parties. Political parties mentioned ideologies, even the terms 'left' and 'right' more than ever. Parties dropped names that sounded like toasts (“For work for Lithuania”, 2004) or vague and generic (“National revival”, 2008). Those which chose vague and indistinguishable names (“Yes”, “Party of the Lithuanian People”) were mercilessly rejected by the voters. One-person's-show parties of very rich businesspeople managed to attract only a few thousands of votes: appeals to 'Aryan heritage' and 'pagan shield' did not help the Party of the Lithuanian People, and memory of the late President Algirdas Brazauskas did not help his second wife Kristina Brazauskienė and her the Democratic Party of Labor and Unity. Obscure Republican and Emigrant parties did not enjoy popularity either.

As a relief to many liberal-minded people and human rights activists came the news that Lithuanian voters completely trashed ultra-nationalist parties. The National Alliance “For Lithuania in Lithuania” (whatever that means) tried its best to mobilize the most primitive ethnic hatred, although even a classical antisemitic cartoon they distributed was about economy (the incumbent government's work in returning religious property of Jewish communities, that was nationalized under the Soviet rule). Stickers were glued to just about every tree on the main streets of Vilnius. Quite surprisingly, the marginal, but in the past faithfully leftist Social Democratic Union (not to be confused with the Social Democratic Party) joined this Alliance. This way Lithuania lost a political group that was consistently promoting left-wing ideas: strong trade unions and redistribution of wealth. These principles may still be there on one form or another, but leftist voters will never again be convinced that this party stands for them. The election did not bring any success for the nationalist 'Young Lithuania', which went in alliance with the far-right nationalists in the last election.

When we look at the parties that got at least 1%, but less than 5%, necessary to win seats in the Parliament, we see parties with a stronger political backbone, but still marginal. The Socialist People's Front, which advocates for nationalization of strategically important enterprises, and the Christian Party, led by a former Conservative politician, were the last among them. Interestingly, voters also grew tired of the tricks of the current mayor of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas. He became world-famous when he staged an extreme 'punishment' with a tank for illegal parking. The Segway-riding mayor is still popular among some urban youngsters, but people also remember the allegations of shameless corruption, protectionism and abuse of power against him. With the loss of the charismatic, yet dictatorial mayor, his former 'home', the Liberal and Centrist Union, lost its electoral base and also failed to pass the threshold.

The elections were also not successful for the newly formed Union of Farmers and Greens. With several green activists on board, the party, which lost its leader to a sudden illness, rebranded itself and drafted a progressive left-leaning platform, but even its strong stance against the nuclear power plant did not attract enough voters and only succeeded in a single-seat constituency.

The smallest party to get on board is the Lithuanian Polish Electoral Action – a conservative, ultra-religious political group that has a strong base in the Polish-speaking areas of Lithuania. The mobilized ethnic minority, regularly angered by pressure for more integration and by the name transcription policy, this year absorbed a Russian minority party. They will be important in the coalitions that will be formed. Next to it came two populist parties: the impeached former president's Order and Justice Party and the new movement-turned-party “The Way of Courage”. The two were clear competitors for very disappointed, less educated and very angry voters. While many people are worried about the prospect of the latter being in the parliament, the capacity of this party's members to engage in actual day-to-day politics is likely to be limited, and they will probably follow more experienced colleagues. The split in populist voting is overall good news.

Three of the four winning parties could almost form a base of a Scandinavian-style party system. As the old leadership is receding, traditional parties increasingly compensate the lack of charismatic leaders with clear, European ideologies. The Social Democratic Party, having lost its long-time leader Mr. Brazauskas, has been searching for a new identity by purifying its ideological statements and supporting progressive taxation and more welfare spending, like social democrats traditionally should. After the split of the liberals, the Liberal Movement has been a consistent free-market ideology defender and as such made gains in the previous election and was an important partner in the current government. This year they strengthened their electoral base and, importantly, attracted youth votes becoming the only political party that that supports legalization of homosexual partnership. Finally, the Conservatives achieved what seemed to be impossible in Lithuania, where many Political Science articles have been written about 'revenge votes'. The approval ratings of the current Prime Minister – the only one who has survived the entire term of the Parliament – did not suffer as much from his austerity policy as expected. The people who were most affected were split among different political parties or have emigrated. Finally, the Labor party has become an established part of the Lithuanian political system since 2004, when it held several ministries in two successive governments. Throughout the years, its ideology did not become clearer: its platform rests on a paternalistic, caretaker stance, but, unsurprisingly, without any commitment to redistribute wealth from the rich. Its carelessness regarding budget deficit has already put them on the black list of the Lithuanian President.

For this reason the outcome of the election is not to be called a victory of the left, as many claim. We are still to see what becomes of the Lithuanian left. The votes for populists and social democrats, particularly in rural and poorer areas, clearly imply that people are tired of austerity. The Conservative-led government was good with numbers, but bad with people. They managed to control inflation, put economic growth on track and avoid accepting the invasive loan and reform package from the IMF. Yet most of the decisions were miserably communicated and harmed the poorest members of the society. To compensate this lack of concern with people and the fact that hostility towards Russia is not sufficient to mobilize voters, the Conservatives threw around religious and traditionalist statements, and failed to react to radical nationalist trends. On the other hand, they strengthened their electoral base among urban youth that self-identifies as right-wing and who appreciate governments being good with numbers, since they will not suffer from austerity measures that made the lives of the poorest members of the society more miserable. The new government may be better at addressing this problem, but dealing with numbers is likely to be its weak point. Borrowing or taxing – populists clearly never think about that when developing their promises.

Category : Lithuania today

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Time to leave Lithuania?

By Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

I asked this question in my editorial last week, referring to the massive migration that takes place from Lithuania these days. We talk no longer about emigration, but about evacuation.

I also ventured to express some criticism on how this country has been ruled for the past 22 years, as it is my conviction that the mass exodus is due to these years’ mismanagement and inadequate facilitation for new jobs, new investments and new businesses.

I forgot, by the way, mentioning rule of law and system critical press as key ingredients for a country that wants progress. In these two areas Lithuania is still an undeveloped nation.

I used myself as an example. That was perhaps a mistake. What I wanted to convey was that foreigners who have come here to work or develop business do not feel particularly welcome. I also wanted to say that the same largely applies to the country’s own population, not least to all those who are now 'fleeing' from here, looking for a new and better country to live in.

Let me also stress that I myself will never leave Lithuania as such. A prominent Lithuanian-American once asked me why I do so much for Lithuania, although I do not have my roots here. My response was that 'I have my branches here, and branches are as important as roots'. I obviously was referring to my two children, who I hope one day will feel real pride being 50% Lithuanian. Because the downturn of this country will not continue forever. One day the negative trend will reverse.

Let me also state that VilNews will continue and increasingly evolve as an important link between Lithuanians and their homeland. More and more people are reading VilNews, more and more writing for us or contributing in other ways.

I think such a common communication platform will prove important in the 'reconstruction' of Lithuania as a nation, and of 'all Lithuanian' as a common, strong bond between all of us with Lithuania in our hearts.

Click HERE to read my last week editorial…

Here a few of the comments we have received:


Gaila Mucen

Maybe the Government will listen and start doing something when even westerners who wanted to build a thriving Lithuania start leaving
Your thoughts reflect the sentiments of other foreigners who came to Lithuania with big expectations of what a great country it could be but the situation today is a far cry from these expectations. The govt. chooses to ignore the mass exodus over the years of its people (not only young) but maybe it will listen and start doing something when even westerners who wanted to build a successful and thriving Lithuania start leaving taking their businesses, good ideas with them but more importantly they are sending a message that Lithuania is a sinking boat.

Gaila Mucen, Australia


Lars Malte Hansen

Our love and hate relation to the lovely place called Lithuania
Very well described, the love and hate relation to the lovely place called Lithuania. With so many opportunities and still with such grim prospects of the future. I say STAY. And not let the negative, departing nor disillusioned part of population decide which way their country will go.

Lars Malte Hansen, Denmark/Lithuania

Let us sail together and if at all sink – then sink together
Aage, Most of all feel much the same way for our dear Lithuania as we all came here not only to do something for ourselves but for this country too. I can say with confidence that things have improved but the impact is hardly felt. The Outflow of the young manpower who are the future of this country is a very worrying factor but looks like the Powers that be do not care. In this connection I am equally intrigued and confused by the influx of a large number of Indians who are opening Companies right left and center here in Lithuania. If they were solid investors and would create jobs, there would not be such anxiety but most are heading here not knowing what to do and how to do. Primarily they are interested in the Temporary Residence Permits and in the bargain the Law

Firms and the Companies dealing with such activity are having a field day.I am sure it must be much true for other Countries too especially from Asia and Africa. But Stay on my friend-you area powerful pillar of this city and of this country. Let us sail together and if at all sink-then sink together.

Rajinder Chaudhary, India/Lithuania

What this country needs is a Leader who believes
in Lithuania, believes in the Lithuanian people
It is always darkest before the storm. Being close to the problems is difficult. But we cannot give up! We cannot be quitters. The fight must go on. Lithuanian partisans gave their lives for their country, countless thousands of Lithuanians suffered in Gulags. Others suffered the loss of their country for years. The "Soviet" apparatus is very good. It finds legitimate problems, blows them out of proportion and demoralizes citizens. It is the most effective "Marketing" program I have ever studied. I went through the affects of "Soviet" propaganda in the Vietnam War. I watched a military dispirited by opposition fall prey to drugs and rebellion. I was part of the rebuilding of this military! It can be done. VilNews will be part of the solution.

What this country needs is a Leader who believes in Lithuania, believes in the Lithuanian people. The Lithuanian people must unite - not just in Lithuania but also in the Lithuanian diaspora. We must quit living in expectation of help from the government of Lithuania. The Government cannot help. We must report bribe takers, we must not give them anything. We must unite and fight for the Lithuania we believe in. I believe in Lithuania! I especially believe in the young people of Lithuania. I believe it is our duty to expose problems with the government - but we need to come up with solutions - not just repeat the problems.  Aage - hang in there you have more people behind you than you know.

Kestutis Eidukonis, Arizona/Lithuania

If you wanted to create a ruckus or take a stand, then
moving to Lithuania was probably not your best choice
Moving to a foreign country is one of the biggest life transitions you can ever make. While it can be challenging and fraught with paperwork, it can also be an immensely rewarding and enriching experience. Whether the move is for business purposes or for personal reasons. 

Another form of culture shock is learning what you cannot do, even though you could do in your old country. You aren't in a position to question it—you need to instead reach an acceptance that this is how things are done here. Whether the society you've gone to is more or less permissive than what you're used to, be sure to do the right thing to fit in.

If you wanted to create a ruckus or take a stand, then moving to Lithuania was probably not your best choice, nor any other country. (lol) 

Moving countries is right up there at the top of the stress scale. Some days it'll be fun. Other days it'll be the worst experience ever. And other days, it'll feel just like home, because it has become home. Your roller coaster of emotions deserves to be taken care of. If you suffer from anxiety, unabated fears, depression, etc., Do not suffer in silence—it will only be compounded by the foreignness of everything and everyone around you and you can end up feeling completely isolated and disillusioned! 

All in all Aage, I guess you know all this and we are going to miss you. Your family and your well being should always come first. 

A lot of us have never met personally, so for us, nothing has changed and nothing will change because of social networking. Bless you and your family and thank you! thank you! 

I have never ever enjoyed myself more as I have getting to know all of you, reading the paper and learning things about my heritage from all the different viewpoints and stories shared by all. See you on FB. 

Irene Simanavicius, Toronto, Canada

Category : Lithuania today

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Trust me, we will all come back to Lithuania –
to die…

By Nellie Vin, Florida

I am one who left Lithuania in 1996 after we got independence in 1990. In few years the country’s economists, with Landsbergis as the head on top, crushed all too fast (with privatization) without providing and helping with starting of small business and lowering taxes for new business people. Finally imported, cheap products from Poland killed local farmers’ business. It’s become not profitable to grow own organic healthy products and sell for Lithuanian people. Many people left to look for opportunities in other countries. Still young and older people are leaving. No one wants to wait. We need today! Not to wait on promises for a better tomorrow.

We saw that from 1990, nothing changed, even got worse. If someone makes enough money from the work the major pay came in envelopes from the company, not shown in the books, for tax purposes. This meant that if a person got 2000 LT in an envelope he was getting just 650 LT on the records. Now, what will happen when this person will be retired? What retirement payments will he get? Of course just from 650LT.

Why, in our country, we have people who became billionaires in short time? They were selling cheap retail products made in other countries. They "killed" local textile and production business in Lithuania.

Now it’s not so bad, but Grybauskaite, before the presidential election, promised dual citizenship for everyone. After getting elected she completely forgot this promise. They finally passed the bill, but just for people who left the country before 1990. Why? Was that right? Did it not contradicting with human rights? Some can make a choice, some can’t. If they have to make a choice they will lose the Lithuania Citizenship. It’s a question. My son serving in Navy in US now lost Lithuania citizenship because he just, last month, become US citizen. I am, very proud of him. He made a choice, he chose the country that gave him work.

He still very much loves his birth country Lithuania but as there is no bill yet to have dual citizenship in Lithuania, this pushed him make a choice. I, and my younger son are still waiting for the dual citizenship bill. My youngest son is a student of Jacksonville University, last year in business and management. We still are holding love and passports of Lithuania, but for how long? 

We need today to live, to learn and to make right decisions. It’s still just long years of talk. I was now in 2010 in Lithuania, spend over 6 months looking for what I can do in Lithuania to get back to live there. Contacted old friends who are in good positions in politics when we all were fighting for independence. Everyone sit in their chairs and the only one answer I got, was; we have 10 year long waiting list. What that means? To get to politician chair because it’s well paid all already busy?

I wanted just work not a chair. But to get good work you must belong to the party. I left again, because I didn't see changes over the 12 years after I left. Forgive my accent I learned English in 3 months in US because after I arrived and all my working time I didn't had time to get proper English education.

My sons did and I am very proud of them. But we made it… It’s not easy to start in the foreign country without language, friends family etc. But we make choices if we logically not see possibilities to change economic situation in Lithuania or we just see government don’t care about people of their own country, often people who were living there for generations. 

Still not easy but in US more possibilities at this moment. These are my thoughts, nothing personal. I can be wrong, but this is just my observations.

Trust me, we all want to come back … And we will get back …To die ….


Virginia Shimkute, New Zealand


We felt rejected, let down and my teenager's respect to Lithuania reduced
Thank you for the view – honest and direct; I didn't get Lithuanian citizenship for myself and my daughter (who was born in 1991 January in Vilnius) after 3 year long battle – we both felt rejected, let down and my teenager's respect to Lithuania somewhat reduced; you might change your mind about going back to die-i want to die in a country who accepts me and lets me live, kind regards-Virginija


Nellie Vin, Florida

Lithuania will remain in me no matter where I would be.
Thank you Virginia, I hear your frustration. I go, as my mother is there… Maybe not to die, but definitely Lithuania will remain in me no matter where I would be.


Category : Lithuania today


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.

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Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

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

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

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

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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!
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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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