Posts filed under ‘Russia’

Lithuanian President will meet PM Putin in Finland

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite announced on 5 February that she is going to meet the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Finland next week.

According to her, the initiative for the meeting came from Kremlin.  Grybauskaite said to the reporters today, “At Putin’s request, we agreed to such meeting.”  The Lithuanian president and the Russian Prime Minister will participate on the meeting of the leaders of the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.

Grybauskaite was asked if during the meeting she will raise a question to Putin about a statement made in 29 January by the Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson in which he declared that Independent Lithuania did not exist in January 13 1991, when the Soviet military killed 14 civilians and injured hundreds injured.  Grybauskaite answered, ‘I think that this statement is a misunderstanding.’  She added, ‘Why should I raise this question.  I know that Lithuania did exist then.  I don’t have any questions about this question.’

Read all article…

February 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm 1 comment

On tragedies. Speech by Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis at Conference of the European Friends of Israel

Excellencies, distinguished priests of One God, colleagues parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen!

Let me share with you some words on tragedies in plural, not only that unique we are commemorating.

Haiti disaster caused by the earthquake is an enormous and terrible human tragedy, which does continue until now.

The tsunami, which passed over Aceha and other Indonesian areas, caused tremendously huge and painful human tragedy, as well.

But what about mass murders in Rwanda, Darfur, East Timor, Kambodja, Chechnya etc.? – there we need another, different definition.

Tragedy for the victims, not for the killers.

What then about the Holodomor or death camps of Nazis and Soviet Bolsheviks, indoctrinated and premeditated for extermination day-by-day of millions of innocents? We need again a different, special definition there for the dark creatures – from the system-builders to physical perpetrators, so similar to humans – but we would abuse the beasts when calling those shaped on two legs by this very word. Wild beasts never behave in such a way. Who could kill the elder, women and children – thousands and millions – only because they were Jewish?

Allow me to say, Ladies and Gentlemen, not so many words of sorrow and sympathy to the victims we are commemorating in solidarity and mourning, as they deserve, today and here, near to Auschwitz. Requiem aeternam. This European camp of death is a particular one, as it was used for real industry of killing and only by one totalitarian power only, not by two replacing each other like it was made in Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen or even Macikai in my native Lithuania. But if we stay on it, one may ask: why do you not look into the future?

Allow me to say more words about the mysteries of the degrading human soul. It may become deadfully significant for our common future. Holocaust of the 20th century was a signal about essential failures of culture, even that called the Western one, but same time also about future disasters which are currently and worldwide coming on.

Did we receive that signal?

Read all speech

February 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania’s President appointed new Minister of Foreign Affairs

The President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė has on 29 January signed a decree appointing Audronius Ažubalis as a new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.  Mr Azubalis, the Conservative Member of Parliament is currently Parliament’s Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  The meeting was scheduled for 45 minutes but lasted double that.

After the meeting Ažubalis told journalists that the Lithuania’s foreign policy priorities are the same, ‘Real and deep integration into NATO and the European Union, good relation with our neighbours.  It sounds banal; there is a lot of talk and writings about it.  On the other hand, it is a different matter how we implement that.  But I don’t want to comment on that at the moment.  However, I have an impression that our conversation with the President was open, very clear, benevolent and to be precise, I am in a good mood from it.’

Asked to give his opinion about a Parliamentary probe on the secret CIA prisons in Lithuania he answered, ‘The probe helped Lithuania to clear out another jammed pipe in its circulation of democracy.’  He also added that in his opinion the probe will not effect Lithuania’s relationship with the USA in any negative way.

Some politicians and commentators see Mr Ažubalis as too anti Russian and not able to fit with a new, so called a pragmatic policy towards Russia, which began when Grybauskaite took the office half year ago.

“I think that Russia is a complicated neighbour and some of its actions can be named as threatening. Let us just look at the example of closure of Druzhba gas pipeline, the act that was threatening to Lithuania economically.  We cannot deny that.” said Ažubalis.

Read all article…

January 30, 2010 at 12:46 am 1 comment

What did V. Ušackas not understand? By Gintaras Aleknonis

 would think that every minister should feel the political situation so well as never to receive an official suggestion from the head of state to leave his post. „I am not clinging to my chair, so if my resignation would solve the problems, I will immediately sign an application to resign,” -this standard sentence is repeated by everybody. Also we all see how much the words differ from the deeds. A phrase “I would like to check how much confidence is placed on me” is still absent in Lithuanian political vocabulary.

A Minister of Foreign Affairs who did not manage to check how much confidence he enjoys, did a mistake that makes us to entertain doubts about his diplomatic wit. Even though this might be only a coincidence, however, this kind of mistakes are not justifiable for a former negotiator for EU membership, Lithuanian ambassador in Washington and London, one of the most professional our diplomats.

It is also hard to understand how Vygaudas Ušackas understood one of the most important problems that are rooted in Lithuanian diplomatic service that is under his leadership. While having a look from aside, it is hard to get a rid from an impression that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was too much close with the State Security Department, and this impression was even more sustained by a free migration between these two services. Links between these two institutions are natural as well as cooperation between them.

However, these links have to be based not on a subjection of one of these services to another but on healthy competition between them. As we can see from a tragic story of Col.Vytautas Pociūnas or from a shameful story of the adviser of the minister Dainius Dabašinskas, there was no balance between the Ministry and the Department. After choosing the side of the faction and not the state interests in the case of CIA prisons, Vygaudas Ušackas showed that he will not manage to regulate the relationships with the State Security Department.

The publicly announced President’s idea to invite the President of the Federation of Russia to the celebration of March the 11th was the last proof for the Minister. Vygaudas Ušackas who is skilfully griping in the channels of mass media showed that he is not inclined to use these skills as well as the cultivation made by the Ministry in the public sphere for the sake of the state.

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January 22, 2010 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania’s grey cardinal interviewed on relations with US, CIA prison and more

Lithuanian web site Delfi on 12 January published an interview with Albinas Januška, a former state secretary of the Foreign Ministry, former adviser to President Valdas Adamkus and Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, and signatory to the Lithuanian Independence Act. 

Some commentators call him Lithuania’s grey cardinal and a mastermind behind so called group called the ‘Statesmen’ (Valstybininkai).  This very rear interview with a man who is known for being the main Lithuania’s foreign policy strategist, but his influence in Lithuanian politics was also huge.

The interview is omitted.  Commentator Vladimiras Laučius conducted it.  

Foreign Policy Is Too Personal
(Delfi.lt) About a year ago, current Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas announced his plans to “open new page in relations with Russia.” Have you noticed any changes?

(Januška) Usačkas is talented and brave. Visions and innovations are necessary. There indeed are some new initiatives. But it is important not to make a mistake and not to imagine oneself as the forerunner of a new historical period.

It seemed that the country was mature enough, that it had opened a sufficient number of “new pages,” and that we had the right to expect to have a predictable, stable, but also sharp and expansive foreign policy.

The biggest mistake is that we again chose to have relations with the Kremlin based on the tête-à-tête principle. This is why we are a member of a modern empire – the EU, to speak with Russia as an equal. A powerful rival against an equally powerful rival. The Kremlin’s foreign policy is based on the principle that one has to divide and rule, because when Russia deals with everyone separately, it is stronger. Our current policy helps Russia strengthen its interests.

I would like to remind you that when Adamkus and [former Minister of Foreign Affairs] Petras Vaitiekūnas were in power, they had added to the EU-Russia negotiation mandate some issues that were important to us and other EU countries: Russia’s commitment to observe the requirements defined in the Energy Charter, the possibility to renew the delivery of oil via the Friendship [Druzhba] pipeline.

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January 22, 2010 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

Will Grybauskaite go to Moscow on 9 May? Depends on Medvedev

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite has found a perfect excuse to avoid travelling to Moscow on 9 May, when the Russians will celebrate 65 anniversary of the end of the World War Two. She will invite the Russia’s President Medvedev to celebrate 20 th anniversary of Lithuania’s Independence on 11 March instead. It is very likely that the Russian President will decline this invitation.

Since Christmas the Lithuanian media is speculating if Grybauskaite would have gone to the 9 May celebrations in Moscow if she had received an invitation from the Russia’s President Medvedev. The Russian agency Regnum yesterday informed that the Russian President Medvedev will not send any invitations and is expecting the high guests to attend the celebrations on their own accord. However, when yesterday Grybauskaite was asked about her intentions on 9 May she switched to an idea of inviting the Presidents of all surrounding countries to celebrate Lithuania’s Independence 20 anniversary on March 11. That is including the President Medvedev.

Read all article on the Lithuania Tribune

January 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

Kremlin’s Strategists Coming to Vilnius

Lituanica would like to represent you with an article published in the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Zinios on 28 September.

After the controversial conference of historians that was organized in Vilnius over the weekend [26-27 September], there are plans to establish in Lithuania a branch of the Kremlin Strategy Centre, which is located in Moscow. There are no doubts that his new political influence tool will receive not only ideological, but also financial support from Russia.

According to its official website, the Kremlin Strategy Centre was established to provide services in implementing state economic programmes, national projects and “in implementing decisions of the Russian president and government in this area.” The website also says that in Lithuania and in some other countries of the “near abroad” anti-Russian tendencies are fuelled at the state level.

Algirdas Paleckis, the scandalous leader of the Front Party, will head the Lithuanian branch of the Kremlin Strategy Centre. Paleckis said for now he was unable to say exactly how the branch would be financed. Yet, he mentioned that the Russians will be co-partners of the branch. He claimed he did not receive any money from Russia for the conference that was held in Vilnius on Saturday [26 September] – the conference supposedly was organized from the funds of the Front Party, the Socialist Party, and an organization of war veterans. However, one of the Front Party members unofficially told Lietuvos Zinios the party lacked money and suspected the event was organized using Russian money…

Vytautas Landsbergis, a member of the European Parliament, said the centre’s branch in Vilnius will be a clear tool of political influence. “Paleckis will receive allowance and will sacrifice his family’s name for it. They always say this is necessary to improve the ties. Even Lithuania was occupied merely in order to improve social and cultural ties,” the professor told Lietuvos Zinios. According to him, the conference’s participants were sent here in order to deny the fact of the occupation. “Such things do not happen for free or haphazardly. The task was brought from Moscow,” Landsbergis said.

Ceslovas Laurinavicius, the director of the 20th Century Department at the History Institute who was invited to the conference but refused to attend, said the conference was an anti-Lithuanian event. “How can you argue with someone who says Lithuania was not occupied or who says that after the war in Lithuania there was a civil war? It is like saying the US never invaded Vietnam,” the historian said.

Source BBC Monitoring

October 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm 1 comment

CIA prisons in Lithuania as plausible as the adventures of James Bond

The TV station Russia Today reported on the alleged location of a CIA prison on a former Soviet military base in Rudninkai, 40 kilometres from Vilnius.  Lithuanian daily Vilniaus Diena in its editorial on 27 August voiced its suspicions regarding the report.

The news about the exceptional attention paid to the godforsaken Rudninkai by the most powerful spy agency of the most powerful country on the planet, just as the hypothesis about the CIA prison in Lithuania, surprised our country’s leaders, who may have ruled the country without even knowing what was happening here.

The surprise that was showed by the then Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and the then President Valdas Adamkus might seem somewhat fake – theoretically at least one of them (most likely the latter) must have known about the existence of such a secret site.

On the other hand, considering the trust among NATO allies, one cannot rule out the possibility that the prison was simply marked as secret object XY, and the president did not even need to know what was behind those letters. It is even more likely that the very secret information about this very secret object did not go beyond the walls of Lithuania’s special services and was available only to the persons of those services who belong to the so called statesmen clan.

However, in the race who will be the first to find the site of the CIA prison in Lithuania, another question (which has become secondary) is important: Why was this information disclosed only now?

If it is true that the CIA prison was established in our country and if it is true that it happened back in 2001, then this reveals exceptional trust in Lithuania. Since then, the situation has changed a little bit over the years. Lithuania’s relations with the US have not become warmer; there have been essential changes in Washington and Vilnius, however.

In the US, the Guantanamo prison’s political status changed. In Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, who for now demonstrates exceptional attention to Lithuania’s partners on the old continent and clearly wants to boost the front of our country’s allies inside the EU, replaced pro-American President Adamkus.

Both circumstances create quiet favourable conditions for weakening Lithuania’s pro-American positions. Who benefits from increased anti-American moods in Lithuania? This question should be addressed to those who claimed they were the first to “discover” the CIA prison branch in Vilnius region but failed to provide witnesses or strips of prison clothes that would support this version. Without evidence, the appearance of Rudninkai on the map of the world’s most important intelligence agencies seems as plausible as the adventures of the famous 007 agent – James Bond

September 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

Seimas’ speaker says Lithuanian carriers ousted from Russian market for political reasons

The BNS writes that Russia shoved Lithuanian carriers out of its transit market for political reasons, Lithuanian Parliamentary Speaker Arunas Valinskas said on Wednesday.

The parliamentary speaker based this conclusion on political events of July and August, namely the resolution to equate Nazi and Stalinist crimes adopted in the Organization for Security and Cooperation Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) Vilnius session – met with ardent criticism by the Russian Duma – and Lithuania’s decision to decline entry to renowned pro-Russian propagandist Modest Kolerov.

“We can draw inferences ourselves, I believe, and think you would back me on this, that it was a political decision to oust Lithuanian carriers from the Russian transit market,” Valinskas on Wednesday said on news radio.

The Seimas speaker feels this can be concluded also from Russia’s statements denying a possibly political tone of the decision.

“Sound reasoning would lead to a conclusion that this was a political decision on Russia’s part, which is indicated in Russia’s repeated argument – just don’t go thinking that this is a political decision, it is economic, of administrative nature, etc. If this is what Russia’s side is saying, then we can be sure almost 100 percent that this was a political decision handed down for implementation to the customs,” Valinskas said.

According to the politician, who leads the controversy-torn National Resurrection Party, the pact reached between Lithuania-Russia customs last week is detrimental to Lithuanian carriers, as the 29 blacklisted hauler companies, which will be subject to tighter customs procedures, carry out approximately 70 percent of Lithuania’s transit to the Russian market.

The parliamentary speaker in an interview to news radio recalled the entire sequence of events that led to Russia’s decision to impose stricter procedures, namely the Lithuania-backed OSCE PA resolution on Nazi and Stalinist crimes adopted on July 03, Russian Duma’s criticizing statement of July 18, Russian customs announcement issued July 23 of impending tighter regulations for Lithuanian carriers, denied entry to Lithuania on July 30 for Kremlin-linked portal’s regnum.ru Editor-in-Chief Kolerov and the queues of Lithuanian carriers that started accumulating on the Latvia-Russia border on August 04.

Source BNS

August 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm 1 comment

Defendant in Medininkai massacre case to be kept in custody in Lithuania till end of October

As the BNS informes the former militiaman of Riga’s Special Purpose Police Squad (OMON) under the Soviet Union’s Interior Ministry will remain in custody in Lithuania until the end of October on suspicions of playing a part in the Medininkai checkpoint massacre.

Sigita Vainauskaite, a Vilnius Regional Court judge, made this ruling on July 27.

This ruling can be appealed to Lithuania’s Court of Appeals.

The decision to extend by three months Mikhailov’s custody term was requested by prosecutor Rolandas Stankevicius, who argued that the accused, who may have committed a felony, is well connected abroad, especially in Russia, and can be expected to try escaping justice.

The judge in Monday’s session also dismissed the former OMON hitman’s request that she resigns from the case over claims of her illegitimate actions.

Vainauskiene ruled that Mikhailov’s accusations have already been covered and answered in previous court hearings.

The defendant felt Vainauskiene shouldn’t be on the panel of judges hearing his case, because of her repeated rulings against his release regardless of protracted court proceedings, which Mikhailov’s defence argues as being overdue. He moreover argued that the judge gave an interview to a journalist working for an Internet news portal before making her ruling and thus violating rules of confidentiality.

Vainauskiene earlier ruled on April 28 to extend Mikhailov’s term of custody for three months. The court then also refused to dismiss the case on the grounds of prescription and release Mikhailov, a decision that was appealed, but also dismissed by the Court of Appeals.

This hasn’t been the first attempt to remove this judge from hearing the Medininkai case. Mikahilov in the end of June tried and failed to get Vainauskiene and Viktoras Dovidaitis removed from the panel of judges.

Charges have been brought against Mikhailov for partaking on July 31 of 1991 in the killing of Lithuanian officers on duty in the Medininkai border control post.

Mikhailov, 40-year-old citizen of Latvia, has for a long time been the only suspect in the said case to be officially charged with suspicion of having partaken in the murder of seven Lithuanian officers. Lithuanian prosecutors in early April also confirmed that official charges have been brought against Alexander Ryzhov who had been in custody in Russia.

Prosecutors say that an investigation with regard to other suspects, also former OMON members – unit chief Cheslav Mlynik and militiamen Andrey Laktyonov and Ryzhov – have been separated and are in process.

On the morning of July 31 1991, Soviet militiamen murdered border guards Antanas Musteikis, Stanislovas Orlavicius, Aras SWAT unit officers Algimantas Juozakas and Mindaugas Balavakas, road police employees Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas with shots to the head.

Police officer Ricardas Rabavicius, who experienced heavy injuries during the attack, died in the hospital Aug. 2. The sole officer who survived the attack was Tomas Sernas, who also experienced heavy injuries at the time of the attack.

Evidence accumulated during the pre-trial investigation leads prosecution to suspect Soviet Union OMON hitmen as being responsible for the crime.

Source BNS

July 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

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