23 February 2018
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The economic argument is over -
Paul Krugman won

Lithuania’s former prime minister, Andrius Kubilius (left) is a staunch austerity advocate - for those who want to cut spending to reduce deficits and "restore confidence."

"Stimulus" spending, Paul Krugman (right) argues, would help reduce unemployment and prop up economic growth until the private sector heals itself and begins to spend again.


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Category : Opinions

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The land I
lead you to is

But great is its truths. To be. To survive. To testify by itself to the abundance and variety of the world’s nations, to the value of man’s life in freedom in his homeland.

Each blade of grass here sprouts from a drop of blood or a tear.


Gail VanWart

Randy Jackson
My future country. Understanding the people and their history is something I'm working on. Thanks for this poem.
Category : Opinions

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The world is about to
discover Lithuania!

Until recently, Vilnius was often called Europe's best kept secret. Very few knew that here lies one of the world's best-preserved cultural treasures, namely Eastern Europe’s largest and most attractive old town. Few knew that Vilnius is considered the world's most Italian city outside Italy and the world’ most Baroque city north of the Alps. This is now changing rapidly. The world population has become aware of both the city and the country and the number of travelers here is the sharp increase.



Now, five years later, they still talk about the wonderful experience they had in Lithuania
My wife and I usually travel with friends from Germany. We decided to go to Lithuania and asked our German friends if they would like to go with us. They were hesitant, but did agree to go. We took a private tour of the country, starting and ending in Vilnius. After 8 days we returned to Germany and talked about our experience. They told me their reluctance came from their experience in other ex-soviet countries, which was not good.

They were very surprised at the beauty of Vilnius, and the other places we visited. Everything they saw and experienced there was positive, and, now, five years later, they still talk about the wonderful experience they had there. Our tour was inexpensive, the hotels first class, the food wonderful, the beer out of this world, and the variety of other drinks was simply world class. I will never forget this trip, as my friends also will not. I would highly recommend Lithuania as a must see for any traveler.

Bernard Terway
Category : Opinions

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Lithuania’s best future lies in a Nordic union

“Russia can turn the lights out on Lithuania and the other two Baltic states any time it pleases. And they can't turn them back on without Russia’s permission. Not only does this small, central European nation, as well as its neighbors Latvia and Estonia, not have access to the Russian owned-switch, but, to a large extent, it also depends on energy supplies from Russia to power its electricity generating plants; power that is needed for energy and economic independence.  Lithuania as well as the other Baltic countries, being poor in energy resources, are facing a tough future and are seeking solutions.”

This was what Dr. Stan Backaitis wrote here in VilNews in 2011. We have also published articles stating that Lithuania’s dependence on Russia, to a certain degree also EU, should be reduced. We have stated that the neighbours to the north in many cases would be much more attractive partners.

I heartily agree
Bravo! I heartily agree. In pondering the often sad history of Lithuania I seem to always come to the conclusion that a small country like Lithuania needs to come to some close relationship with some combination of neighbors in order to gain long term stability and security. The Grand Duchy was probably the best example.

Today, association with NATO and the EU has gone far to secure a degree of that security and prosperity but with the various issues in Europe and even questionable engagement of the US, something deeper must be developed.

Scandinavia seems to be, and in fact has evolved as a strengthening partner and role model which I think many Lithuanians probably accept.

Not to take away from other efforts and positive, even close, relations with other neighbors (Poland, even Russia), closeness with Scandinavia and emulation of its institutions would serve Lithuania well.

Rimantas Aukstuolis
Category : Opinions

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Soviet remnants
in Lithuania

The green Soviet
bridge in Vilnius

The Green Bridge sculpture "Industry and Construction (Pramonė ir statyba)" by Bronius Vyšniauskas and Napoleonas Petrulis. Photos: Aage Myhre.

The Green Bridge (Lithuanian: Žaliasis tiltas) is a bridge over the Neris River in Vilnius, Lithuania. It is the oldest bridge in the city and connects city centre with the so-called right river bank and the Kalvariju g that leads to several of the city’s Soviet suburbs north of the city centre.


As long as they are not glorifying one of the tyrants

Jurate Kutkus Burns As long as they are not glorifying one of the tyrants, these statues should stay.
The sculptures serve a concrete purpose -- to remind us that that this past was far from rosy

Justinas V. Daugmaudis I would not call these sculptures as "soviet remnants". Doing so simply shows that the person fails to understand the context. The sculptures are the authentic artifacts of the time not so long past, and they serve a concrete purpose -- to remind us that that this past was far from rosy (and that we do not want a repeat of it). One must never forget, lest one lives in a dream that is disconnected from (sometimes stark) reality.

Europe, in general, is different from the US. We like our reminders, and we like things old. We like those reminders even if they are not too pleasant.

I would like to see these 2 balvonai drown in Neris

Julius van Cerniauskas "Europe, in general, is different from the US. We like our reminders, and we like things old. We like those reminders even if they are not too pleasant."

no we dont. I would like to see these 2 balvonai drown in Neris.

experts say that the statue badly needs repairs. i think it doesnt. it needs to start dropping in pieces just like USSR did. WHAT A SPECTACULAR PERFORMANCE WOULD THAT BE!!!
You dislike the USSR, but so do I; as much forcefully, in fact. Still, it is OUR history
Justinas V. Daugmaudis You don't understand that Vilnius is replete with the artifacts of the past generations. You dislike the USSR, but so do I; as much forcefully, in fact. Still, it is OUR history. We have persevered, whilst the USSR -- despite all of its might -- did not. Consider the sculptures as a token of sadistic glee, if you want.
If Nazis erected a statue for Adolf during their short occupation of LT, should we have kept it too?
Julius van Cerniauskas 
if Nazis erected a statue for Adolf during their short occupation of LT, should we have kept it too? lets return Lenin's statue to Lukiskiu aikste as well? why not? fact is.. this statue annoys many people. thats all. it should be moved to Grutas park where all history masochists can enjoy themselves to their hearts content. I believe Germans had a fair amount of "artifacts" from their Nazi era too. I guess that not many(if any) of them were left in public places.
There is a quiet but defineable determination within the German psyche to visit the places where the madness was spawned and to understand it
Justinas V. Daugmaudis Nothing could be more further from truth, my dear Julius. The German acceptance, and sometime embrace, of its monstrous past is seen as a sign of maturity by historians and academics. (Not so long ago record numbers of German television viewers tuned in to a domestically made documentary on the Holocaust, a programme unthinkable just a few years ago.)

Buildings used by the officers at the notorious female concentration camp of Ravensbruck -- where Anne Frank died along with as many as 92000 other female and child inmates including the British SOE agent Violette Szabo -- are being CONVERTED into a youth hostel and an educational institute. NOT DEMOLISHED! Eight of the 23 former SS guardhouses have been converted to cater for an estimated 13,000 visitors each year. This conversion project is one of the latest in which many of the Third Reich's most infamous sites have been transformed into tourism or leisure venues as Germany seeks to draw a line under its past. Germans themselves are queuing up for a glimpse of a time that has been buried beneath layers of guilt, uncertainty and shame.

I would agree that Hitler and his legacies will never beat Euro Disney as the holiday destination of choice. Still, there is a quiet but defineable determination within the German psyche to visit the places where the madness was spawned and to understand it.

Ravensbruck is but one Nazi site among many that has been or is about to be transformed for "educational tourism". After the war many buildings which represented the monstrosity of National Socialism were destroyed. The Allies had a dual motive for this: to erase the memory of Nazism and to prevent "shrines" developing in the future -- an idea that persisted for decades. Nowadays, this rampant post-war destruction is considered to be a "barbarian" -- albeit "understandable" -- act, as it was not known better at the time.

The Berghof, Hitler's mountain home in Bavaria, was destroyed in 1945 as was Spandau prison in the late 1980s after the last inmate, Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess, died. In the past year, however, many other sites of importance in the Third Reich have become the magnets of educational tourism. 

What you have to understand, my dear Julius, is that Nazi artifacts themselves are becoming public places. Not because there is any love left for Nazis, but simply because to remember means not to repeat. 

Now, as for Hitler's statues -- they were removed. The same was done with Lenin's (and other so-called leaders') statues in Lithuania. The statues on the Green bridge are not even in the same category, for they do not enshrine any concrete person that would symbolize the oppressive regime.

Your suggestion to remove the statues on the Green bridge (along with other artifacts, no?) simply means that you want to cut out 50 years of occupation from the memory of people. An exceedingly shallow idea, because it's also the memory of our own people, of our own country. Besides, why do you feel so fixated on these statues? Why don't you 

suggest to burn the books written during the reign of the regime? Why don't you suggest to bring down buildings? National Opera and Ballet Theater is a perfect example of -- then award winning -- soviet architecture, and it is much more visible than those aforementioned statues, too. Yet you keep silent about those other cultural artifacts. It is likely that the reason is simple -- you don't even think about them. (It is hard to think when you are simply parroting the same shallow categorical ideas that were spread by some not-too-clever journalists that don't even have any proper education. Big mouth leaves little place for brain.) 

Summa summarum, when you are blind to many other (too subtle?) cultural artifacts of the regime, then if those statues on the Green bridge make you think and feel strongly about the USSR, this means that the statues serve their purpose.
Removing the statue will not erase the history, and there is no need to do that

Viktorija Ruškulienė Art often represents not only the regime (in this particular case - Soviet occupation), but also culture, fashion, historical moment, influences of social/environmental/political ideas, mentality of that time. Removing the statue will not erase the history, and there is no need to do that. I prefer this peace with two workers much better to the peace of early independence "Vamzdis…

Sculpture 'patchwork Arch
Timotiejus Sevelis KNOCK IT DOWN!!
I always thought it was the old soviet heating & water supply system...

Siga Eidukonis It's ART!!! and I always thought it was the old soviet heating & water supply system... Aciu, Viktorija Ruškulienė...good info!
Create the bright future that was intended!!

Timotiejus Sevelis forget the shitty past, move on, and create the bright future that was intended!!
Category : Opinions

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Making Bullets:
Take One California Girl add a Lithuanian Revolution and Stir

Read the fascinating story of Daiva Venckus, written by our Associate Editor Vin Karnila.

Vin Karnila: Daiva Venckus has been writing a very exciting book about her experiences from those early days of the 1990s. After reading the first chapter I am sure that your next thought will be the same as mine:

Where can I get this book???

Well, this is the bad news – You can’t get it..

I’m not in the publishing business so I have absolutely no idea as to the logic these people use but I’ll try to put it in a nut shell and then let you figure it out. Daiva has shown her book to a number of publishers in the USA. Their reaction was – THEY LIKED IT!!!

So why don’t they publish it???

Their logic is this, they don’t want to publish a book that will basically be a one shot deal. They want to publish a book that will be followed by other books based on the same theme/topic.

What is even more puzzling and even exasperating is that she offered the book to a number of publishing companies here in Lithuania and they were completely unresponsive. For a Lithuanian company to be unresponsive is unfortunately not uncommon but for the life of me I don’t understand why a Lithuanian publisher would not be interested in a book that can be published in Lithuanian for the home market and in English for the worldwide market. There are very few books published here in Lithuania that have the potential be popular in the world wide market and when one is presented to a Lithuanian publisher there is no response – You figure it out???

Dears readers, if any of you are in the publishing industry or if any of you can understand this logic of not publishing a book you think is good because you want to have more books on the same topic to follow it please explain this all to me because this logic totally escapes me??????

My advice would be to self-publish as an online book

I worked with Daiva's dad long ago, so knew her mom, and dad, since she was a baby. Back in 1991, her mom kept me up to date with Daiva's travel to Lithuania and her participation in the effort to kick out the Russians. We were happy to learn she was able to stay safe and return to the USA with a sense of accomplishment in an historic event. Insofar as publishing, I am aware the industry is fickle and always finds room to print trash like romance novels. My advice would be to self-publish as an online book - a friend recently took that approach, and it completely circumvents the publisher roadblocks. Also, by the way, a book on history is not "one of a series" as was told to Daiva, for example the Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin is a one-off. Yes, Goodwin wrote other books, but not on the same topic. So another suggestion would be to find out who publishes history books, and stay away firms that publish items such as the Hobbit.

Print the book, we need it especially nowadays for the younger generations who don't know what real tyranny can be

Heard the stories from my grandparents who came to America. They told stories of relatives who were left behind and suffered under the communist rule. My grandparents hoped for a free Lithuania but never really thought the Russians would leave short of a 3rd World War. Print the book, we need it especially now a days for the younger generations who don't know what real tyranny can be. Ruta Sepetys book "Shades of Gray" was a one shot presentation on Lithuania and it was a hit. Print the book, we need more encouragement fto love or our Lithuanian Heritage.
Her story is gripping and everyone needs to hear it.
Excellent article, Vincas! Daiva's story is full of amazing details of what was happening during the Lithuanian fight for re-independence! Her story is gripping and everyone needs to hear it. So many secrets in history revealed in her tales. The time is now because this generation needs to learn what happened in Lithuania so we can teach our children. History like this should never repeat itself!
Rima Raulinaitis
Category : Opinions

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Vytis tail up or
Vytis tail down?

Rimgaudas Vidziunas
‎*Question* Vytis tail up or Vytis tail down? Have you ever noticed? Can anyone answer the symbolism? Thank you...

Irene Simanavicius Hmmmm..scratching my chin. The one I have at home the tail is down. what does it mean?

Frank Passic Even horses have to relieve themselves....

Darius Udrys Quick! Who can think of a discussion that would be an even bigger waste of time?
Darius Udrys Quick! Who can say something even more bathetic?
Darius Udrys Quick! Who should consult a dictionary?
Darius Udrys Who made you the boss of the internet?
Darius Udrys

Lietuvos žvaigždelės ir krūvelės | mobili versija
Šįmet kalbėta, kad statinys labai svarbus – juk Lietuva 2013 metų antroje pusėje pirmininkaus Europos Sąjungai (ES).

Bernard Terway Darius - what kind of a point are you trying to make? Your comments are simply stupid. I can think of something more "bathetic" in a split second. That is you.
Darius Udrys Oh, what wit! It's been a while since I've heard one from the "yo mama" series of rejoinders.

Merry Kay Aldonis I learned that whenever you see an elephant with his tail up, it meant either good luck or something very strong and vigor about it.

Merry Kay Aldonis I have a Lithuanian/English Dictiionary, but it does not say anything about tail

Virginia Pudinas Schoenfeld It's the elephants trunk Merry Kay. Not his tail. I think the tail on the horse just depends on the artists mood.

Merry Kay Aldonis Virginia Pudinas Shoenfeld you are ABSOLUTELY Correct!!

Merry Kay Aldonis In penmanship and writing analysis, they used to say that if you ended sentences or signatures with the last letter curving upward, always meant more of a positive nature.

Vytas Levickis After Independence there was confusion in Lithuania when the Vytis was depicted with the tail down. Now officially the Vytis has its tail up. This is the opposite to the Belarus Pahonia, the official coat of arms of Belarus from 1991 to 1995, which is nearly identical to the Vytis, but has its tail down. Both depict a charging knight on horseback
Darius Udrys My coworker says that in high school her history teacher made them discuss this issue and it was even a question on the test. Super. Next, why don't we discuss whether the left rear hoof should be ahead of or behind the right one?

Vijole Arbas then there is the question of the angle at which the knight holds his head high.
Category : Opinions

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11 March 1990, the day Lithuania woke up from its 50 year nightmare

Lithuania’s independence declaration of 11 March 1990 was signed by wise and courageous political leaders who did not want to accept that their beloved homeland should remain occupied. They deserve our respect and gratitude!

Read more…

Judita Gliauberzonaite 
Please, don't exaggerate - it wasn't all a nightmare. 

Vytautas Sliupas
Dear Judita you look so young in your picture, maybe too young to remember the nightmare.

Evaldas Zvinys 
Judita - I understand what you are saying. But IMHO you might hurt some people's feelings: by analogy someone could say that a Nazi or a Gulag camp was not all a nightmare - but normally people just do not say that. Su Švente!

Vijole Arbas
I laud all our brave patriots who are not afraid to live in their own country and build it to its potential.

Jenifer C. Dillis
"Lietuva! Lietuva! Lietuva!"

Aage Myhre 
You know, Judita Gliauberzonaite, it was after the 11 March event in the Lithuanian Parliament in 1990 that I first became aware that my home country Norway had a forgotten neighbouring country called Lithuania. In the summer of 1990 I had my first ever encounter with Lithuanians, and in November that same year I came here for the first time. I met many of those who had signed the Declaration of Freedom 11 March and was impressed with their determination, but also the significant nervousness they felt in the months leading up to the Soviet Union's disastrous assault against Lithuania in January 1991. I maintain that this was, and is, people who deserve our thanks and respect!

Petter Kinn 
As you know, dearest Aage Myhre, we were also rather early! I agree with you!

Irene Simanavicius 

Warren Thompson 
Back in the USSR??? JOKIU BUDU!

Boris Bakunas When I was young, I thought I would never live to see that day. Now believe anything is possible. And when it comes to defending liberty, that goes double for Lithuanians. After all, we've had over a thousand years of practice.
Category : Opinions

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“Zuokas Airline” – AIR LITUANICA – to take off in June:
Is this sensible use of taxpayers’ money in a time of crisis?
Follow the debate in our VilNews Forum

Ulf Hallan Richard Branson: “If you want to become a millionaire, start with one billion dollars and open an airline company.”Aage Myhre My personal comment is that this smells like failure. We have over many years seen state owned airlines in the Baltic and Nordic countries, all bankrupt or on the brink of bankruptcy … The funny thing is that the people of Vilnius seem to accept this without protests… I can only imagine what the reactions would have been in a western capital …

I fully understand that Lithuania needs an airline, and I think the name is very good! But I think, with due respect, that a mayor should be active with totally different things and leave it to experienced business people from the aviation industry to take care of establishing a new airline …

Matilda Allen I am sorry, they’re idiots! Well, maybe we have to look deeper? Paksas , Zuokas….? Money laundry

Aage Myhre to Matilda Allen: We see something similar with regards to how the Lithuanian government has handled the crisis over the last 5 years … People in Southern Europe, where wages and living conditions are much better than here, take to the streets for massive protests against their governments austerity measures, while here in Lithuania people only bow their heads or leave …

Irene Simanavicius to Aage Myhre: You are 100% correct about the Mayor reaching out to the experts. Canadians almost paid billions for an aircraft carrier for our Military Defense, and because one aviation mechanic that lived in Houston who used to be part of our Air force and flew to the Arctic on a regular basis before he retired recognized the plane as NOT HAVING a twin engine. He mentioned it to someone and it got on the news and our politicians were RED FACED for being so stupid and falling for the marketing hype without thinking or asking the experts. It was just a shiny new brand new toy to them. The mechanic said when he flew in the severe cold one engine would completely seize up and if he didn’t have the reserve, well…he wouldn’t be here nor anyone he transported.(so many examples are out there from cocky politicians trying to make their mark):)

Sergey Kanovich Well, owning 83% of the stake while also owning 1 billion LT debt is something worth of Nobel in finance and economy. I bet that this will be a flying tram… On the other hand it is an excellent PR stunt at someone else expense (guess who’s:)) again. And if it fails like other projects failed – who cares…

It also says that the MD of Air Lituanica without the wings is being paid 30,000 LT monthly salary. Municipality last year has allocated 0,5mio, then this year almost 3mio LT. It is not intended to be low cost airline. it is intended to suck monies out of already existing 1 billion LT whole… Unbelievable
Eugene Rangayah  I have come across the a slide highlighting the proposal for the airline and noticed a Brian Joffe in the midst. Mr Joffe has been CEO of the Bidvest group in South Africa, which has a huge investment portfolio spanning the continent. With the support of people like him, with a good entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, the airline could turn out to be a success. However, I do think that it is very ambitious growth that had been forecast over the next 5 years. It does not seem apparent that any consideration had been taken on the competition from low cost carriers which have positioned themselves at VNO!

Arvi Vaalivonis This is more about the LT pride than business…

Category : Lithuania today sidebar / Opinions

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I met a smiling wood carver at this year’s Kaziuko Mugė


Aage Myhre I do not have too much interest in the commodities on KAZIUKO MUGE, but the people in front and behind the sale counters are phenomenally attractive ... People from town and country around all of Lithuania who spent day after day over the past year to do carpentry, sewing, forging iron art, making pottery ...
The Kaziuoko Muge people are sooo special... You simply have to love them all...

Ruta Musonis I agree. That's why I love viewing your photos. 

Carol Luschas Great picture!

Aldona Onalfo Aage, you take beautiful pictures! Keep taking them!!! I enjoy seeing them.

Nellie Vin o so wonderful

Jenifer C. Dillis Great smile!

Elizabeth Hunt This guy looks like he is from Middle Earth by the way he is dressed.
Category : Opinions

The Lithuanian people’s faces, their marketed goods and wares are so interesting to me

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This was a nice video you shared with us. It was like I took a mini trip from the comfort of my home. The Lituanian people's faces, their marketed goods and wares are so interesting to me. I can't make a trip to Lituania yet, but you never know in the future what may happen.

Carol Day

Category : Opinions

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My Užupis love story (slide show with music). Click HERE to see it.

Užupis is the bohemian district of Vilnius city. The district is very popular with artists, and has been compared to Montmartre in Paris and to Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen, due to its never-mind atmosphere. On April 1, 1997, the district declared itself an independent republic (The Republic of Užupis).

That would be where I would live. When I was there, I felt right at home
Irene Simanavicius Oh Lovely Uzupis..a stroll through Uzupis is nothing less than enjoyable. Curious nooks and crannies hide artwork or unexpected gardens. I wandered into shops selling artistic goods or the 100-year-old pharmacy that still supplies patrons with cough medicine and bandages. I sat by the café near the river to relax with a cup of coffee and a bulkute. When I crossed one of the bridges leading to or from Uzupis, you’ll see love locks clustered on the railings and if the weather is good, you may even catch a new bride and groom having their photos taken among the crumbling bricks and colorful graffiti so characteristic of the district. The most noticeable feature of the main square is the trumpet-blowing bronze angel sculpture on its column. This sculpture replaced the large stone egg that previously stood as a symbol for Uzupis in 2002 and has subsequently become a symbol associated with Uzupis. ~ That would be where I would live. When I was there, I felt right at home.
Category : Opinions


Have your say. Send to:

By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

* * *

Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

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

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!

* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

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

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

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

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

* * *
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
* * *

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.

* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

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