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03.04.2019 Author: Grete Mautner

Doing Away with Lame Ducks

Dzojos Gundos Barysaites foto.

Springtime is finally here and that means that nature’s rejuvenation is bringing change to all aspects of life, including the political one. And this means that all sorts of lame ducks that have been dominating the political stage in a great many of countries will have to go, giving way to change.

Among those figures leaving the political stage one can mention Hillary Clinton, who had been the main contender versus Donald Trump in the latest presidential election, as she announced that she wouldn’t consider running for president in 2020.

Yet another lame duck, namely the sitting British prime minister Theresa May is clearly singing her swan song, as she reaches the point that no matter what step she takes she is unable to redeem herself.

In early May, Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite is going to kiss goodbye her political ambitions, as she has clearly overstayed her welcome and can hardly come up with any better present to her compatriots than handing over all of her powers to a more worthy candidate.

Grybauskaite came to power in 2009 as a non-partisan figure with a strong communist and social democratic background. The life of Grybauskaite prior to the fall of the USSR is riddled with mysteries, as there is no understanding regarding what functions she performed in the Communist Party of Lithuania, but she’s also been accused of having close ties with the KGB, as both her father and herself were employed by this agency. Moreover, Grybauskaite has been trying to abuse her position in a desperate bid to destroy all documentary evidence of her prior activities all across the Lithuania national archives for over a decade. This, in particular, was revealed by the Lithuanian journalist Ruta Yanutene who discovered missing records when she was was working on her book about Dalia Grybauskaite’s past that was published under the title Red Dalia.

To a large extent, this fact was indirectly confirmed by Grybauskaite herself, who refused to provide written permission to allow the release of her records stored in the Russian national archives back in 2016. This permission was requested the signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania Zigmas Vaišvila who spent a number of years trying to clarify certain aspects of the dubious background of the sitting Lithuanian head of state. On more than one occasion Vaišvila would accuse Grybauskaite of working for the KGB. He has even tried to invoke a vote of no confidence, explaining his rationale by announcing that an ethically unsound person cannot represent the people of their country.

There’s little doubt that in a desperate bid to escape her past, Dalia Grybauskaite has been pursuing Russophobic steps that in no way benefit the national interests of her country.

But maybe she managed to redeem herself in by achieving some important milestones during her presidential stay? Let’s recall the selling points of her election campaign: real income growth, reduction of social inequality trends, fighting against corruption – all the things that must have ensured that Lithuanian patriots would become proud citizens of their country.

As for actual results, Lithuania’s economic growth rates have been negligible which means that the state is facing the prospect of collapse after 2022, when Brussels will cut down on the financial assistance it provides to weak members of the union by 22%.

Is it any wonder then that local residents have been leaving the country in droves all through Gribauskaite’s reign, which resulted in Lithuania losing a chunk of its population, some 300,000 representatives of its economically active population who fled to England, Ireland, Norway and other European countries.

The fighting of corruption hasn’t reaped any positive results for the sitting Lithuanian government either. Last February, some two dozen judges and lawyers found themselves arrested for bribes. However, those arrests come on the back of the so-called Masiulisgate, which revealed that Lithuania’s liberal party used to sell political influence for money. This shows, that no matter what corruption-related scandals break out in Lithuania, local political elites remained deeply engaged in selling the interests of the people they were supposed to represent.

Even Grybauskaite failed to escape corruption charges. As she had inside information about the timing of the loans that Vilnius receives and about the plans of the government to release its securities to the market, the president of Lithuania would make her own investments accordingly. Thus, the sitting Lithuanian president set an example of bald-faced disregard of public interests, that others were all too happy to follow.

So it’s only logical that a former MEP from Lithuania, Margarita Starkeviciute accused Grybauskaite of illegal enrichment at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, adding that in the European Union such offenses are typically punished by the confiscation of property. According to a parliamentary investigation, Lithuania would turn down a loan with 1.5% interest rates that was designed to bail out her country in favor of a loan with 9.5% in interest rates. However, illicit enrichment is just an episode in a long list of accusations against Grybauskaite, that are being voiced by local residents as the date of her resignation draws closer.

The only thing that the sitting Lithuanian president succeeded in was the advancement of Russophobia, as she would make one allegation about so-called “imminent” Russian aggression after another.

It’s curious that she, as it’s becomes clear now, was charged by the Lithuanian communist party to fight fascist ideology in Lithuania, but upon becoming the head of the state, did her best in restoring sympathies to WWII Nazi war criminals. It was under her supervision that the glorification of the black guards of Adolf Hitler, the so-called Forest Brothers, was launched across Lithuania. Once a war criminal who maimed many of his compatriots during WWII, Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas was reinstalled as a national hero. Grybauskaite proceeded with the whitewashing of other mass-murderers. It’s noteworthy that a total of seven former Lithuanian “Forest Brothers” were awarded the Freedom Award by the Lithuanian parliament last January.

However, Lithuanian anti-fascists did not forget Grybauskaite’s dissertation, “The Relationship of Public and Personal Property in the Functioning of Personal Subsidiary Farms,” in which she would reveal that more than 13,000 Lithuanian civilians, including more than a thousand minors, died a horrible death at the hands of the so-called “Forest Brothers”. This was the thesis Gribauskaite defended back in 1993 at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, with Vilnius receiving independence a long time prior to that.

Here is the picture of the two-faced head of state of Lithuania. But what can one expect from a daughter of a traitor of the Motherland and a staff member of the KGB, Polikarpas Grybauskas, if we are to describe her in her own terms? At least the terms she’s been using these days.

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” 

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