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Oppositionist: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia face travesty of justice

Algirdas Paleckis, an opposition politician has told Litovsky Kurier (the Lithuanian Courier), a Russian-language newspaper, that the negative tendencies in his country can be observed in the neighboring Lithuania and Estonia too. Among the negative phenomena in the Baltics, Paleckis mentioned the economic decline, dominance of the pro-American presidents, and discrimination of the national minorities.

“Everything is relative. The situation in Lithuania can be better understood by comparing it to the situation in our neighbor countries. Unfortunately, few people do this. Our politicians and analysts used to orient at big actors and compare themselves with them, missing what is taking place in their own region, in their ‘weight category’. At the dawn of Lithuania’s independence, our Baltic neighbors – Latvia and Estonia – were paid more attention. Yet, many ran to extremes then dreaming of a close union of the three Baltic ‘sisters.’ The Baltic Federation has failed. There were no economic, ethnic and historical preconditions then. Many gave the cold shoulder to the neighbors and this was no good. The developments, the tendencies dominating there are similar to the ones taking place in our country or have an influence on us. The way Latvians rushed to Lithuanian shopping centers in the Lithuanian regions bordering with Latvia showed that introduction of the euro would prompt price hikes. Earlier, this happened in Estonia,” Paleckis said.

“When one of the Baltic states elected a president who came from the United States, the other two elected their foreign presidents soon after (let us remember Valdas Adamkus, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and Toomas Ilves). When tough economy measures of the government sparked public unrest in Riga on January 14 2009, in a couple of days the same happened in Vilnius. In Estonia and Latvia where the number of the Russian population accounts for 30-40 percent of the total, inter-ethnic tension has been observed for a long time already. Activists protesting against discrimination are persecuted in the country. This phenomenon has reached Lithuania now, but in a different form, as the number of Russians and Poles is much lower in our country. However, dissidence is persecuted in our country. Recently, a wave of searches was launched at the houses of people who organized a picket against NATO. Like in Estonia and Latvia, our authorities label such people as ‘Kremlin agents’ and try to isolate them, though with no success so far,” the oppositionist says recalling his previous persecutions.

“In the course of all the 25 years of independence, I have found no objective media assessment of such manifestation of discrimination as the situation the Russians live in in Latvia and Estonia – they have no citizenship and, consequently, do not enjoy many civil rights. Such people in Latvia alone number 300,000. In Lithuania, they do not speak of this problem. No one in Lithuania will dare to deprive the Russians of citizenship. However, if such outrage is possible in our neighborhood – Latvia and Estonia – if it is suppressed here, it turns out that our authorities support that phenomenon secretly. This is so sad,” the politician said for conclusion.

Algirdas Paleckis, a former member of the Seimas, secretary of Lithuania’s diplomatic mission at the EU and Vilnius vice mayor, was persecuted for the phrase “Lithuanians opened fire at Lithuanians” he pronounced on the television. He cast doubt on the official version of the January 1991 events in Vilnius saying that the Soviet soldiers fired at the crowed in front of the TV center. Paleckis blamed provocateurs – the supporters of Lithuania’s withdrawal from the Soviet Union for the death of civilians. The First Instance Court acquitted Paleckis, but after retry, he was found guilty and fined for 10,400 litas. The Lithuanian Attorney’s Office launched investigation against two witnesses whose testimonies confirmed Paleckis’s views.

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