Life In Lithuania #9: Lithuanian-Russian relations

Goodbye Lenin

Goodbye Lenin

Last Sunday (July 19th, 2015), the soviet statues from the green bridge were removed. It wasn’t a great celebration, but many people were happy or relieved, they don’t want to give them impression that they miss the soviet times and say that they should be at a museum, not at public display. But some found this exaggerated and feel the statues should be kept there. Click here to read some opinions.


Removed Russian translation from a Street Name

In Latvia, the neighbor country of Lithuania, almost all the population speaks Russian as a second language, but it is not an official language. A referendum took place to officialese Russian as a second language but people said no. That is how things are in the Baltic states. Russians are welcome but signs of a turbulent past must not come back.

Destruction of Catholic churches during the russification era

Destruction of Catholic churches during the russification era

The Russian Empire tried to eradicate the Lithuanian language from the face of the Universe. Lithuania established its independence in 1918 and won two European Basketball Championships (1937, 1939 In the original post I wrongly wrote 1941, but that championship was cancelled due to the World War), before being annexed to the USSR (Soviet Union).

During the Second World War, Lithuania got invaded by the Nazis, then by the Soviets.

The Soviet regime, consisted on an extractive system (a “small” group of individuals do their best to exploit the rest of the population) and was afraid to change its politics. The perestroika and glasnost triggered the feared transition to an inclusive economy (“many” people are included in the process of governing). With more freedom, the nations within USSR claimed independence. Lithuanian was the first ex-soviet republic to proclaim independence. Soviets troops attacked Vilnius TV Tower in order to regain control, but 600 were injured and 14 got killed (the images I saw at the museum were really disturbing). Personally, I was shocked to see Gorbachev acting like that.

Soviet Occupation in 1991

January events 1991

Visit Georgia ad in Vilnius Streets

Visit Georgia ad in Vilnius Streets

You can now understand how Lithuanians feel about Russia. The Russian language is losing its influence. I met some people that refuse to learn it and prefer other foreign languages (English, German and Spanish). There are laws that forbid the use foreign characters to the name of new businesses. When Georgia and Ukraine had conflicts with the Russians, the Lithuanians were the ones to give the biggest support. As of today, you can see many Ukrainian flags in any city for sign of support (I’ve seen the same in Warsaw as well), and Georgia is so loved that has become one of the top touristic destinations. If you go there and say you are lithuanian, you get a free shot of chacha.


Celebration at Islandijos street

Iceland was the first country to recognize Lithuania as a sovereign nations, for that one of the most famous streets in Vilnius for named after the country. There is even a day to celebrate this and you can find Icelandic beer in the supermarkets.

A cartoon that went viral, about the powerlessness of LT compared to RU

A cartoon that went viral, about the powerlessness of LT compared to RU

This year [2015] things are getting worse. The conflict between Russian and Ukraine has taken the spotlight. The Kremelin claims it is not involved in the conflict. The president of Lithuania (Dalia Grybauskaitė) told in an interview to Latvian television that the country is already being attacked by Russia with cyberattacks and propaganda. They are non conventional but first elements of war. She states there are increased militarization with the border of Kaliningrad.

Zero points to Russia :(

Zero points to Russia 😦

I would also worry a little bit since there is a patriotic theme park being built in Russia with Tanks and military weapons. There has been some small aggression between Russian planes and NATO planes and ships. Also, in Eurovision 2015, Russia brought a really good singer that has gained the sympathy of many European countries, but not enough because San Marino and Lithuania gave zero points to Russia. I was really SHOCKED when I witnessed this moment. (Usually in Eurovision, countries support their neighbors). If you go to the north, in Siauliai, you can easily spot a lot of fight jets performing exercises in the air (they are rare in Vilnius). Some of the lithuanians I know have been call to the army. Things are getting serious.

rungtyniu-akimirka-50226b813c48eI will finish up by saying that I have many Russian friend and I really like them a lot, some I can consider as one of my best friends. They do not support the current government agenda but I love to learn everyday from them and it is interesting for me how Brasil and Russia have some things in common. The movie Leviathan even reminds me of things that happen in Latin America. This might be the reason why we are in the BRICS. I LOVE Russian classical music and Shostakovich 7th’s Symphony brings tears to my eyes, it makes you feel the struggle of the people during the siege of Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg). Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, Stravisnky’s Firebird and The Rite Of Spring, Horowitz playing Scriabin Etude’s. So many good music. Do not think that all Lithuanians are against Russia or want to initiate a conflict. Russia is part of the Lithuanian culture and you can speak the language that many people will understand you or talk to you with no hate.

Check my other posts related to Lithuania:)

#1 Work Enviroment
#2 Cultural Shocks
#3 More Cultural Shocks
#4 Kissing, streets, sun and soviet times
#5 Girls Girls Girls !!
#6 Food
#7 You are (not) my friend
#8 Beach walk, flowers, quiz and mosquitoes
#9 Russia

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4 Responses to Life In Lithuania #9: Lithuanian-Russian relations

  1. Tomas says:

    We won the championship in 1937 and 1939, not 1941.


    • Chandé says:

      Oj ! My bad. I just fixed it. Labai aciu 🙂


    • Vilius says:

      I think that you are hard to understand what’s going on, Lithuanians and Russians, Lithuania takes two different opinions, Lithuanians still remember the Stalinist regime tragedy: exile, shootings, torture, corpses beat down the street, the NKVD and KGB terror, grandparents who went out to battle to forest against the Soviets. And the Russians who think that 1940 – 1944 m. they liberated Lithuania, their children believed that what was said by Russian TV. so that misunderstanding arises, the Lithuanians want to apologize to them, the Russians do not understand for what, and would like to thank them for liberation. Russians celebrate May 9 (Victory Day) Lithuanians is the second Soviet occupation day. That is to say, those who. A nation is an honor and victory – B people, this pain and despair. History written by the winners. (it is not accurate, it is biased) Second thing Language: Russian around the world is about 200 million, Lithuanian, only 6 million. Lithuanians fighting for their language because it is disappearing, the Russians just want to live comfortably, and demands that Lithuania not force them to learn Lithuanian language and learn Russian. Lithuanian people are very proud of their culture and achievements of Europe’s oldest language. This is not antagonistic conflict between Lithuanian and Russian, just mutual disagreements, Lithuanians are building a nation-state on their land and with its own culture, the Russians want to take them into account, but the Lithuanians gave the proposal or, or, or you are learning and you agree to our Terms and Conditions or go to russia and dwell there. hope it’s you useful living in Lithuania understand that ethnic environment (even though I was born here and grew up in Lithuanian, do not always understand everything especially relations between the peoples) by the way and the biggest conflict is not with the Russians (Russia and the Putin regime), the main Lithuanian conflicts especially in the Vilnius region are with local Poles.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: New York vs Lithuania or Europe | Life in Lithuania & Eurotrips

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