Meeting March 11

  • 2010-03-10
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - All roads will lead to Vilnius on March 11. That is the day when the Lithuanian parliament proclaimed re-establishment of Lithuania’s independence 20 years ago. The presidents of Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, and Slovenia will arrive in Vilnius as well as delegations from other countries.

Russia will be represented by Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin. Last week, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko also got an invitation, though his answer was unknown until March 10, when he stated that he will not arrive himself, but will send Viktor Buria, Belorusian vice prime minister, to Vilnius on March 11, in his place. To get such an invitation, Lukashenko needed to fulfill a condition raised by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite regarding questioning by prosecutors of Vladimir Uskhopchik, former deputy minister of defense of Belarus in Lukashenko’s administration.

Uskhopchik is suspected of commanding Soviet troops during the USSR’s aggression on Lithuania in January 1991, i.e. 10 months after Lithuania proclaimed re-establishment of its independence. Belarusian prosecutors questioned Uskhopchik and sent the questioning materials to Lithuanian prosecutors. Lithuanian prosecutors stated that this material could help them to qualify Uskhopchik’s activity in January 1991, as a crime which has no time limitation for persecution. It could be understood as a suggestion that the crime may be qualified as a crime against humanity, or a war crime.

Among the honorary guests will be well known persons such as Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson, former foreign minister of Iceland, which was the first country to recognize Lithuania’s independence in February 1991, Adam Michnik, Polish communist-era dissident who loudly supported Lithuania’s independence in 1990-1991, and Sergei Kovalev, Russian human rights activist during the Soviet-era as well as in modern-day Russia.

Kovalev was a guest in the Lithuanian parliament on March 11, 1990 as well. On that historic day, 124 MPs voted for re-establishment of independence, six abstained and nobody voted against. Kovalev called it “a miracle” then.
The event of March 11, 1990, was also commemorated during the sitting of the council of the ruling Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats on March 6. Andrius Kubilius, the party’s leader and Lithuania’s prime minister, spoke about the experiment carried out by him and his party’s colleague, Emanuelis Zingeris, who is chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, one of the leading politicians re-establishing Lithuania’s independence back in 1990, as well as the most famous activist of the Lithuanian Jewish community. They both questioned young people as to what does “CK” (“Centro Komitetas” in Lithuanian) mean.

This abbreviation, in Lithuanian, means “the Central Committee” and during the Soviet-era it was associated with the Central Committee of the Communist Party, which ruled the USSR. However, now nobody among young people had such an association in their minds. “Zingeris asked his younger daughter and she said that ‘CK’ means ‘Calvin Klein’,” Kubilius said.