Posts filed under ‘Totalitarian regimes’

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?

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February 1, 2010 at 5:39 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

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

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

Online museum to guide visitors through Communist regime crimes

An online Global Museum on Communism is being launched on Tuesday in view of shedding a light on the history of the Soviet regime and the inherent crimes against humanity, and commemorating victims of the regime writes BNS.

The Lithuanian government was among donors that contributed to the project in question, earmarking 15,000 litas (EUR 4,300). The website launch will be webcast on Tuesday evening from the US capital Washington.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas says that such projects help the humanity retain the historic memory, loss of which makes “reconciliation impossible.”

“We cannot forget the crimes against the humanity committed by the two largest totalitarian regimes of the 20th century – Fascism and Stalinism. Symbolically, the project is being launched this year, which does not only mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin wall but also 70 years since the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact,” Usackas told BNS on Tuesday in comment of the project.

Victims of the Communist regime and their families will be invited to register in the website and share their experience. The museum will also feature papers by historians, also film recordings from key historic events.

The project was initiated by a Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, established in December of 1993 by the US Congress in view of immortalizing the memory of those fallen victim to communism and those who fought to resist it.

Project donors include governments of other Eastern European states as well as private foundations and individual contributors.

The Lithuanian government previously allocated funds to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation back in 2007 for an underway memorial in Washington erected to pay homage to victims of the regime.

June 19, 2009 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

‘Recalling of the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe mark the beginning of some geopolitical games between US and Russia’

Following the topic of the possible deals between Washington and Russia in regards to Iranian nuclear ambition and the US missile defence systems in Poland and Czech Republic another Lithuanian political scientist expressed his opinion.  Lecture of the  Vilnius University Institute on International Relations and Political Science Tomas Janeliunas was not as positive as another lecture of the same institution Mr Girnius.

Mr Janeliunas told to BNS that the new US administration’s potential move to recall deployment of anti-missile shield elements in the Czech Republic and Poland, namely its significance to Eastern European security is still dim. Russia, on the other hand, should enjoy US’ proposal to lend a helping hand in tackling challenges brought about by Iran’s underway-nuclear programme.

The New York Times wrote that the President Obama handed over a seemingly secret letter to Russian President Medvedev, therein addressing the possibility of swapping the anti-missile defence in Europe for pooling efforts against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.The lecture worried that this would mean that an official confirmation on this info would reveal changes in US foreign policy priorities.

“The move to recall plans for deploying an anti-missile defence shield wouldn’t be of great significance to Eastern Europe. As far as I’m aware and as far as bipartite agreements go, the Polish will be getting missile interceptor systems promised by the US even if there will be no anti-missile shield. However, all lies within details. Should recalling of the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe mark the beginning of some geopolitical games among super states like the US and Russia, then as far as we’re concerned, this wouldn’t mean anything positive”, the political scientist reasoned.

Forgoing missile defence deployment in Eastern Europe most likely wouldn’t mean that the US is renouncing plans to get equipped with such armament in general, said Janeliunas to BNS. Creating the missile defence system came at too great of a price for it to be completely renounced, and the threats posed by countries like North Korea doesn’t reverse the logic for developing missile defence, he said.

Janeliunas told to BNS that the US administration’s decision to halt deployment of missile defence elements comes as less of a detriment in comparison to that potentially brought about in the short term by Iran’s nuclear program, should it go on unhindered.  “In this sense, it is becoming evident that warranting security in Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear program are among the foreign policy priorities of the new US administration. US needs allies so as to overcome these problems. The US already has NATO allies in Afghanistan, but the Iran problem is concurrent with Russia”.

US’ proposal to Russia to work hand-in-hand in view of back-pedalling Iran’s nuclear program should come as a compliment, said Janeliunas, as by doing so the US would be acknowledging Russia’s significance in the international arena and its influence when it comes to tackling global security issues.

Janeliunas said that should these proposals prove to be correct, it would be difficult to decide right away whether they are positive in terms of Eastern European security.

Source BNS

March 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Obama’s letter to Medvedev on a bid to swap missile defence for curbing of Iran – analysis of the Lithuanian political scientist

The United States’ proposal to give up its missile defence plans in Eastern Europe in return for Russian assistance in curbing Iran’s possible nuclear weapon ambitions gave a headache to Moscow, says Lithuanian political scientist Kestutis Girnius the BNS writes.

In his words, Eastern Europe, the initial planned deployment site of the missile defence system elements, should not worry about fewer US security guarantees.

US daily, the New York Times, said on March 3 that US President Barack Obama had sent an allegedly secret letter to his Russian colleague, Dmitry Medvedev, envisaging a possibility of swapping the missile defence system in Europe for cooperation against Iran’s ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

Girnius, a lecturer at the Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute, told BNS that the letter was not likely to be secret, adding that leaking of its content as a conscious and serious move by the United States.

“First of all, I would say that the term “secret” used by the New York Times is a bit imprecise. I believe that many diplomatic letters are secret – we do not know the content of letters of our prime minister or our president. The handing of the letter to Russia by a diplomat does not necessarily mean the secrecy of the content but, instead, underlines that Obama views the letter as very serious and worthy of attention. I would not be surprised to find out that Obama’s people intentionally leaked it in order to put pressure upon Russia,” said Girnius.

In his opinion, the BNS writes, it actually puts pressure upon Moscow to take specific steps in line with its interests to keep the Czech Republic and Poland free of the missile defence system elements – radars and interceptor missiles. Russia has warned to deploy missile systems Iskander in Kaliningrad, a small enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland – in case Washington does not give up its missile system plans in Europe. Both Lithuania and Poland are members of the EU and NATO.

“Indeed, its an attempt to tell Russia: “Look, we are building the shield because we see a threat in Iran. If you help us eliminate the threat, there will be no missile defence system and no threat to you. If you rare really worried about missile defence, do not threaten to deploy Iskander but join the efforts to put a check on Iran’s intentions of creating nuclear weapon. If you don’t take the steps, it will mean you are engaged in propaganda.” I believe it is not indulgence but statement of logical positions. They are pressuring Russia to respond properly,” Girnius told BNS.

In his words, as BNS wrote, the goal of the missile defence system is to protect Europe and the United States against possible missiles from Iran, therefore, the debates to give up the deployment plans, with Russia’s assistance against Iran, do not mean sacrificing or swapping Eastern Europe’s security interests.

“The decision not to build the shield would mean sacrificing Eastern Europe’s interests only if it was originally aimed against Russia, while America has always said this was not the case. Nevertheless, Eastern Europe may not like such wayward opinions as making them look as fools. By holding talks with the United States and agreeing, administrations of the Czech Republic and Poland sacrificed part of their political capital and electorate,” the political scientist argued.

In his opinion, the “hawks” in Eastern Europe may attempt to claim that such changes of plans of the United States undermined security guarantees, however, the main security guarantees remain, just as the US and NATO promises and commitments to protect.

BNS continues, friendlier communication between Russia and the United States, lower tensions between the East and the West without any indulgence to Moscow, in Girnius’ words, better answers the interests of Lithuania. In his opinion, the discussions to give up the missile defence system plans did not mean indulgence to Russia.

“If I were in the shoes of Eastern Europeans, I would not be concerned – absence of the shield means no additional target for Russians, and if the shield is there its operation and reliability will not be clear. (…) Giving up a very costly and not necessarily an efficient weapon is a smart thing to do. (…) I see this move of Obama as more constructive, as compared with the earlier US administration,” said Girnius.

In his words, the changed US plans would be a puzzle to Russia, which may procrastinate its reply.

“To my view, such proposal to Russia is a clearly bigger headache. I believe the shield was a perfect tool for slapping America and saying: “Look how aggressive it is, it ignores our interests and does not allow creation of a unified Europe.” (..) I’m almost certain that Russia will procrastinate (its response) and try to get more. We will see how much patience the US will show. Much will depend on the developments in Iran,” Girnius told BNS.

BNS

March 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm 3 comments

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