Books on Lithuania
Update No: 301 - (30/01/06)
Former president acquitted; liberal democrats seek his
Two key figures in last year's presidential impeachment, Rolandas Paksas and
Yuri Borisov, the former's biggest financial supporter, can relax after
victories in Lithuanian courts. Former Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas has
won acquittal from the country's Supreme Court on charges of revealing a state
secret. The high court said there is no sufficient evidence to the
Paksas was impeached in 2004. In March, an appeals court found him guilty of
telling his financial sponsor, Russian businessman Yury Borisov, that the State
Security Department had tapped his telephone.
Finally, justice has triumphed, Paksas said, adding that the high court had
ruled that 15 of 16 charges against him were unfounded. He said that the only
remaining charge is that he improperly allowed Borisov to be naturalized as a
Paksas may use the decision to make a political comeback, something the liberal
democrats are urging him to do. Paksas was previously a popular mayor of Vilnius
and was thereby brought to the national stage as prime minister. He then became
Still in his forties, he is politically a spring chicken compared to the pair of
septuagenarians at the helm of Lithuanian politics, President Valdas Adamkus and
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas. They both have the aura of elder statesmen,
however, while a certain raffish lack of respectability still pertains to the
dare-devil aviator and adventurer Paksas.
Putin supports calls for Baltic Russians to move to Kaliningrad
Tension between Lithuania and Russia remains high, not least because of the
machinations of politicians in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Poland
and Lithuania, in Lithuanian affairs. Kaliningrad is notorious for its
corruption and nefarious ways.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the Kaliningrad Oblast governor's idea
of inviting ethnic Russians from the Baltic countries to resettle in the
exclave. "I have heard nothing about such an initiative, but I support it,
once it has been made," Putin told reporters on December 16th in the resort
town of Sochi.
The liberal backstop for Russia
Putin is well aware that Lithuania is an historic nation in the FSU. Its
declaration of independence, on March 13th, 1990 set off the collapse of the
It had a further goal in mind - the end of totalitarianism throughout the length
and breadth of the dire calamity of a bankrupt empire. It succeeded. It is a
truly historic nation, which may yet play a further role in Russian affairs.
The Baltic states are "the key advocates of human rights in Russia."
For several years already Lithuania has been known as a venue for the gatherings
and parties of Byelorussian oppositionists. Recently some Russian
"oppositionists" too have, seemingly, begun seeking support in
Recent months have seen the visit of certain anti-Putin oppositionists to
Lithuania, interviews with them in the media, as well as a number of articles
with negative assessments of Russia. Almost every periodical in Lithuania took
it as a duty to interview Sergey Kovalyov, who met with everybody, including
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus in person. They did not neglect either the
publication of a book by Yelena Tregubova. Strange as this may sound, but
Russian "dissidents expect small Lithuania to 'assist' them in fighting the
This is exactly how Delfi headlines its interview with Tregubova: "Y.
Tregubova: We Expect Your Assistance." The Russian journalist says that
Lithuania was very lucky to make its timely escape from Russia. Noting that
"Putin has already liquidated the whole mechanism of constitutional
elections existing under Boris Yeltsin's rule, Tregubova concludes: "For
Russia this is an absolute fallback to a ruling party monopoly, as was the case
with the Supreme Council in the Soviet times. So, you are lucky to have broken
away in time."
Further in the interview the author of "The Kremlin Mysteries," a book
that has become a best-seller in Lithuania, gives an interesting geo-political
picture of the present situation, where the only advocates of democratic Russia
in Europe, apart from Ukraine, are the Baltic states.
"Bought by the Kremlin" or simply fearing the nuclear button, the
leaders of the key EU countries and the US do not criticize Putin and Russia.
Only the Baltic states, says Tregubova, tell the truth. Asked "will
Lithuania free itself from Russia's influence? Or is this influence only a myth,
a fantasy by Lithuanian politicians?" Tregubova says: "Today
Lithuania, like all the Baltic states, has a unique position on Russia in the
world. In the last two years the leaders of your small but proud states have
forced people to speak loudly about them, have forced them to give attention to
their principled positions. You won just because your presidents refused to be
somebody's addition on the international arena. You have joined Europe. And you
are not ashamed of openly criticizing Russia, unlike some European states."
Veidas analytical weekly suggests a similar concept of "the
Kremlin-bought" Europe in its article "Russia Buys Europe in
Parts." "Who are the biggest friends of Russia and Vladimir Putin in
the European Union? The leaders of which big EU states have always called and
are calling the Kremlin KGB agent 'a real democrat' and keep defending him from
the cavils of the European media?" asks the reviewer and answers: they are
corrupt Berlusconi, Chirac and Shroeder. With Shroeder everything is clear - it
has just become obvious that he has been bought by Gazprom for a highly paid
job. Chirac cannot be sued as the French constitution gives him legal immunity.
As to Berlusconi, his accomplices in the parliament have pushed through a law
giving him similar immunity, but the Italian constitution doesn't and so, the
author says, he can sooner or later face prosecution.
Thus, "it turns out that the biggest friends of Russia in Europe are also
the biggest bribers of Europe." "Having realized its inability to
influence EU politicians in a normal, civilized way, Russia has decided to act
in its own way - to buy the politicians of big European states - not a hard job,
as it turns out, especially as they have wagons of money in the Kremlin due to
skyscraping oil and gas prices, and there are very many wishing to have
it." The author gives no evidence of Russia's "buying" Chirac or
Berlusconi. As you may know, even if there is suspicion of their corruption, it
is not due to Russia.
Obviously for lack of such evidence, the weekly aims mostly at the German
ex-chancellor and makes far-reaching conclusions about "the
Kremlin-bought" Lithuanian politicians: "Lithuania should make a very
important conclusion from the story with Shroeder. If Gazprom can buy the
chancellor of the biggest European state, can't it really buy Lithuanian
politicians too? Once we have made this conclusion, we should see which
politicians and parties in Lithuania have been generously sponsored by Gazprom
and its daughter companies. Once we have seen it, we should think it over."
Sergey Kovalyov: "Why reckon with Russia?" "One Should Stop Being
Afraid of Russia" - this is how Ekstra weekly headlines its interview with
civil advocate Sergey Kovalyov when he was on a visit to Lithuania. This
interview almost keeps the tone of Tregubova's interview, but instead of giving
Lithuania the role of a pharos in the struggle for democratic Russia, Kovalyov
casts vitriol at everybody. "You have the partner you allow him to be. And
you find no guts to cope with him. As long as you bear with such a Russia, it
will be the way it is."
In the opinion of "the last and the only critic of President Putin,"
as the magazine calls Kovalyov, a very dangerous realpolitik is spreading
amongst Western politicians." Just because they want to reckon with Russia.
But why? Why a state respecting no democratic rights and freedoms is given some
special status? You say because of oil- and gas-pipelines? But if you try very
hard or just tighten hard your belt, you can well go without the Russian
pipeline flow. On the other hand, what would the selfsame Russia do were there
no pipelines? Would it drink, eat this oil?"
Kovalyov very much welcomed the decision of the Lithuanian president not to
attend the Victory Day in Moscow last year: "I don't know the motives, but
I applaud President Adamkus for being as brave as not to go to the May 9th
parade in Moscow."
Has Lithuania actually won in the fight for the EU budget?
Lithuanian media report Lithuanian President Adamkus as calling "a big
victory" the agreement for planned funds which Lithuania has won in its
talks over the EU financial prospect. At the same time, Adamkus notes the
responsibility Lithuania must show in using the money.
At a meeting December 19th Lithuanian Prime Minister Brazauskas informed Adamkus
about the agreement reached in Brussels concerning the EU budget 2007-2013 and
Lithuania's share thereof. The press secretary of the president Rita Grumadaite
said after the meeting that "Lithuania's success will depend on how
transparently and rationally it uses the money." She reported the president
as believing that the past talks have shown that "25 countries can work
together and agree even if they first seem to be inevitably at variance."
The agreement says that in 2007-2013 Lithuania will get over 36 bln litas
(almost US$15 bn). Per year Lithuania will get 56% more than on an average in
2004-2006. Brazauskas says that the EU budget for Lithuania implies that one
litas it will put into the EU budget will come back in 5 litas.
The agreement on the EU financial prospect was made on December 17th after long
and hard negotiations. Two states objected to the UK's final compromise proposal
- Lithuania and Poland. Brazauskas was the only one to speak twice at the EU
Council. He tried to prove that the bigger financing requirement for the closure
of the Ignalina nuclear power plant should not be linked with the amount of the
aid Lithuania gets from the structural funds. Brazauskas said that Ignalina is
not Lithuania's problem, but the EU's commitment.
In response to Brazauskas' speech British Premier Tony Blair said that he
understands the problem, that's why they have made exception for Lithuania -
"the structural assistance has been raised by 120m Euro." Blair
pledged to find this money in the EU budget together with European Commission.
In the EU budget 2007-2013 Lithuania got an additional 220m Euro of structural
aid, 50m Euro for closing Ignalina and the above 120m Euro - a total of 400m
Euro. Meanwhile, in July the then EU chairman Luxembourg proposed 600m Euro for
Lithuania. So, looking at this "victory" now the 400m Euro result may
as well be a loss. (BNS) Even more, Blair's compliance caused a wave of fury in
the European Parliament and the leadership of the rich EU states, including the
British parliament - a vivid proof of how some in the EU rich actually regard
the needs and plights of their newcomer counterparts.
Honda dealer offers car order by Internet
In Lithuania Honda dealers offered the service of offering new cars through the
Internet. The website www.accord features a comprehensive list of all the new
generation Honda Accord cars that are to be shipped to Lithuania in the near
future, so the buyer can make a reservation in advance. It also provides
technical information as well as car prices and specifications. Veho, the
dealer, also is planning to launch a similar reservation system for Honda Civic
cars on the website www.civic.lt.