Struggle ★ La Lucha presents this urgent report from the Socialist Popular Front of Lithuania. A former Soviet republic, Lithuania has been ruled by a succession of ultra-right-wing governments since the fall of the USSR, and has been a member of the U.S.-dominated NATO military alliance since 2004. The country holds an officially sanctioned march of neo-Nazis and World War II fascist collaborators in the capital, Vilnius, every year on March 11. The article was translated by SLL editor Greg Butterfield.
Political repression in Lithuania is already a familiar phenomenon. But the recent events became a sensation in our country. Searches and mass arrests of anti-fascists are taking place, and against this background, even striking teachers are called “terrorists.”
In spring 2018, a secret arrest was carried out in Palangda, when the famous blogger Simonas Zaurskas was quickly arrested and imprisoned. He was held for a week, suspected of having written articles on the events of Jan. 13, 1991, and openly stated that many people were shot and killed by local militants R. Cheponis, R. Greinis and others, directed by representatives of the CIA. In late September, Zagurskas was convicted — he was fined 3,700 euros.
But the recent event, more ominous, was the secret arrest of the politician and former leader of the Socialist Popular Front, Algirdas Paleckis. Some other members of the Socialist Front, including the famous historian Valery Ivanov, were also arrested. The identities of some of the arrested people are still unknown.
Security services persecute Socialist Front activists
If you look at recent events, there were other such cases: in January 2016, Socialist Front activist Skajsta Rakauskienė was secretly arrested. She actively fought the drug mafia. She was arrested, kept in isolation in a detention facility for 24 hours and then taken to a psychiatric hospital on a strict regimen. I and my colleagues, H. Yodishka, D. Schulzas, Z. Volkovas-Lākats and others, defended the rights of S. Rakauskienė.
A year later, all charges against her were dropped and she was released from the hospital. But she died in her apartment a week later, as the persecution turned out to be a decisive factor in the health of the elderly woman.
The new repression is on a wider scale. But besides A. Paleckis and V. Ivanov, are others still detained in this political case?
By the evening of Dec. 20, it was revealed that other members of the Socialist Popular Front were arrested — a member of the organization’s board, Andrei Gorbatenkov, and another member of the organization, businessman Leonas Minkevicius. There is evidence that several other people were arrested, including two women, one of them a member of the Socialist Front, but for now specific information is withheld.
The comrades searched for Gorbatenkov for several days, and by the evening of Dec. 20 it was learned that he had been arrested on Dec. 18 and released after two days. His apartment was searched, and many things were confiscated, including computers and his phone. The anti-fascist bought a new phone and contacted other members of the Socialist Front.
L. Minkevicius is still behind bars. He was a member of the board of the organization from 2009 to 2012, and participated in the elections to the Seimas [parliament] of Lithuania. The son of famous philosopher professor Juokubas Minkevicius has long been acquainted with Algirdas Paleckis and other well-known anti-fascists.
In this whole story of barbaric political repression, most surprising is the position of a narrow circle of people who knew about A. Paleckis’ secret arrest, but were silent. One of them is his brother Rimvydas. He stated: “I warned Algirdas at that time that he was going the wrong way. I knew about the arrest, but was silent, so as not to interfere with the investigation.”
Of course, his brother’s position is very beneficial for the security services, which conduct political repression. Now, a long time has passed since Paleckis was arrested at the beginning of November. He does not have a regular lawyer, and the state of his health is unknown. If a person is secretly arrested, then torture and other illegal measures are possible.
Repression became harsher after coup in Ukraine
Since spring 2014, after the coup in Ukraine, the Lithuanian security services have begun to act more strictly. Thus, in January 2015, a criminal case was instituted against 11 Lithuanian citizens who are members of the Socialist Front, the movement “Let’s Be United” and other organizations. Searches were conducted, judicial cases began. I, along with Oleg Titorenko, Vaidas Lextutis and other comrades, was tried for a long time.
On Dec. 20, I received an official document stating that I was forbidden to enter the building of the Lithuanian Seimas. This is another trick of the Lithuanian security services. The Supreme Court recently acquitted me, putting an end to the long political case, so now they are trying to find other ways to repress us. V. Titov, V. Orlov, D. Šulcas, A. Janisius and other Lithuanian anti-fascists are also facing persecution by the security services.
For more information, visit the web page of the Socialist Popular Front.