Controversial Lithuanian mayor tries for Parliament

  • 2000-07-27
VILNIUS (BNS) - The mayor of Kaunas, Vytautas Sustauskas, notorious for his anti-Semitic remarks, will toss his name into the hat for member of Parliament.

July 22 marked 100 days since Sustauskas began his tenure as mayor of Lithuania's second largest city. Sustauskas, the leader of the Lithuanian Freedom Union, is famous for making racist remarks and credited with ruining the annual Viennese Ball, formerly held in Vilnius.

In an interview with the daily Kauno Diena, Sustauskas confirmed his intention to contest a seat in Parliament in elections scheduled for fall.

"I'd like to try my hand in parliamentary elections as well. Maybe for once people with a different mentality will assemble there," the mayor said.

He told the daily Lietuvos Rytas the Lithuanian Freedom League's position on Jewish issues had an effect on the opinion foreign and domestic politicians hold of him.

Sustauskas wondered why the state spends millions of litas to maintain Jewish cemeteries, while other national ethnic minorities are neglected. He thought Israel should pay for it. Sustauskas denied he was anti-Semitic to Kauno Diena.

"I don't have anything against Jews and I have said that repeatedly. Who saw my anti-Semitism, and where? Where did some document I wrote appear, saying the Jews need to be sent to the ghetto or some such? There have been none such. But that doesn't mean I can't, as a Lithuanian citizen, have my own opinions on the annual commemoration of the {Vilna] Goan, or on the apologies of leaders of the state in the name of the entire nation for the actions of a group who murdered Jews."

Sustauskas has gone abroad in his short term as mayor only once, to Russia's Kaliningrad oblast, although he has received more than 20 invitations from various European countries.