Facing the Russian-Polish offensive

  • 2011-04-13
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - In March, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, giving an interview to Russia’s business newspaper Delovoy Peterburg, said that while the EU presidency rotates among the member states each half-year, Russia rotates its main enemy each half-year. Russia’s enemies No. 1 already were Ukraine, Estonia and Georgia. It may be that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who, unlike Russia’s virtual President Dmitry Medvedev, is the real master of Russia, decided that it is Lithuania’s turn now, though it could be that the Kremlin considers Lithuania as an eternal strategic enemy. The recently announced plans to build experimental Russian nuclear plants, which are described as unsafe by ecologists, in Kaliningrad and Belarus on the borders with Lithuania are understood by Lithuanian politicians and observers as Putin’s nuclear attack against Lithuania. To make the life of Lithuanians even more troublesome, the Kremlin decided, as it already did in 1989-1991, to play the usual card of traditional Polish chauvinism against Lithuania. The latter was confirmed by a statement from Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis.

“Observers noticed that already for some time, probably since the last elections of the European Parliament, joint lists of candidats of Polish and Russian organizations have been created. This cooperation is developing and supported by the corresponding embassies during various events and meetings with leaders of organizations of various ethnic minority organizations,” Azubalis said in his briefing in the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on April 8.

Valdemar Tomasevski, leader of the Polish Electoral Action, is the instigator of the anti-Lithuanian hysteria in Poland, which is beneficial only for Russia. Tomasevski and his party are the main source of information for Poland’s media. Until March, the official aide of this European Parliament member (by the way, the MEPs’ aides usually get better salaries than Baltic MPs) was Viktor Balakin, a former KGB major who worked in the Vilnius KGB headquarters from 1973-1991 (till the very collapse of communism in Moscow and till the last day of the existence of the KGB in Vilnius). Balakin worked in the KGB unit in Vilnius responsible for surveillance of political dissidents in Lithuania. Tomasevki had stated that Balakin was just an engineer in the KGB headquarters and got the job of MEP aide because he and Balakin were neighbors and good friends.

Now the Genocide Victims’ Museum, situated in the former Vilnius KGB prison in the basement of the KGB headquarters, shows an exhibition with the portrait of the former Tomasevski aide (after being elected to the Vilnius municipality council on Feb. 27, Balakin resigned from the post of Tomasevski’s aide) and his deeds - his KGB units’ photos, made until August 1991, of political dissidents in the streets with inscriptions over the photos (“to find out who he is”). During the recent municipal elections, Balakin of the Russian Alliance was elected to the Vilnius municipality from the joint list of the Polish Electoral Action and Russian Alliance. Arvydas Anusauskas, head of the national security and defense committee of the Lithuanian parliament, suggested that “some parties” get financing from abroad. He also stated that former officers of the KGB in Lithuania receive regular payments from Moscow.

The perfect example of Tomasevski’s attempts to provoke conflicts is his interview with Lithuanian daily Respublika, which was published on April 6. The interview was related to the currently adopted Lithuanian education law, introducing more Lithuanian language into Slavic schools to help the Slavs integrate better into Lithuania’s social life. Tomasevski raised the campaign of protest in Poland against this law. Tomasevski, asked by Respublika how people who have poor knowledge of the Lithuanian language should integrate into the life of Lithuania, answered, “Where to integrate? Where should we integrate to? We have lived here all the time. [...] It is you who have to integrate in this land, because it was you who came here. Your ancestors have to integrate here, not us. This is our land.”

On April 8, Mariusz Maszkiewicz, Soviet-era anti-communist activist in Poland and Poland’s ambassador in Vilnius from 1991-1994 and in Minsk from 1998-2002, as well as a short-term political prisoner in Alexander Lukashenko’s jail in 2006, told the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas that the anti-Lithuanian Polish campaign is possibly inspired by “the generation of young KGB officers who came to power in Russia.” The interview was published on April 8. Maszkiewicz stated: 10 years ago, the Kremlin tried to inspire a separatist Polish movement in Vilnius’ surroundings, as it did in Transdniestria of Moldova as well as South Ossetia and Abkhazia of Georgia.

“I think that the place for massacre in Medininkai [look to the article Dealing with Gorbachev-era crimes] was chosen not incidentally. It was a check of the Lithuanian state’s power in that part of its territory,” Maszkewicz told Lietuvos Rytas, explaining that the Kremlin planned to create a pro-Moscow Polish state made of Belarus’ Grodno region as well as Lithuania’s regions of Vilnius and Salcininkai. Maszkiewicz spoke highly of Rysard Maceikianiec, who was a Lithuanian MP in 1990, elected in the Vilnius region. He, like all the other five Polish MPs elected from the Vilnius region’s rural constituencies, were the only MPs who abstained during the voting of March 11, 1990, on the re-establishment of Lithuania’s independence (the rest of the MPs voted in favor of independence and nobody voted against it). Maszkiewicz said that later, Maceikianiec described his abstention as a “mistake.” According to Maszkiewicz, Maceikianiec (a Lithuanian MP from 1990-1992) did care about the real needs of Poles in Lithuania and was not among those who, according to Maszkiewicz, wanted to create another Karabakh here.

However, Maszkiewicz’s words are not broadcast by Poland’s media or the Polish Electoral Action-controlled media in Lithuania. The darkest chauvinist propaganda of ethnic hatred prevails in the Polish media, which is silent about the Polish alliance with the Russians in Vilnius because it does not suit Polish propaganda. Maceikianiec is persona non grata in Poland’s media as well. According to Maceikianiec, the Warsaw-backed Polish Electoral Action is controlled by Tomasevski’s extended family members, such as a Lithuanian MP Jaroslav Narkevic – the wives of Tomasevski and Narkevic are cousins.

“On May 17, 2007, the cyber attack against Estonia was staged. […] Now the growing information attack is staged against another country, Lithuania. […] The situation is more complicated because the attack is launched not only directly from the East, but also using a third country, Poland,” Maceikianiec wrote at www.pogon.lt, which is the Polish-language Web site of Lithuania’s Poles who do not agree with Tomasevski’s anti-Lithuanian psychosis. Maceikianiec in his open letter to Poland’s Senator Lukasz Maria Abgarowicz, published by www.voruta.lt on April 9, expressed his unhappiness with the activity of Janusz Skolimowski, Poland’s current ambassador in Vilnius, who has occupied this post since 2005. According to that open letter by Maceikianiec, the late President Lech Kaczynski demanded dismissal of Skolimowski due to the latter’s alleged ties with an alleged suspect in the case of the unsolved murder of General Marek Papala, chief of Polish police, in Warsaw in 1998.

Maceikianiec also points out that Skolimowski studied in Moscow’s Soviet diplomatic institute from 1977-1980 (diplomatic service and secret services are traditionally tied in Russia – interestingly enough, from 1981-1985, Skolimowski was the Libyan capital Tripoli-based diplomat of communist Poland when Moammar Gadhafi, who then was a big friend of the USSR, was supporting terrorism worldwide – the Red Brigades in Italy, for example). Maceikianiec in his letter also states that “the gang of the Polish Electoral Action” gets only 21 percent of the vote from Poles over 18 years old living in Vilnius city, where the education level of local Poles is higher than in the rural area near Vilnius.

On April 7, the Lithuanian parliament became an unusually noisy place: the delegation of Poland’s MPs started to shout just as they were entering the building – they arrived to a parliamentary forum of both countries. Poland’s MPs, not willing to discuss the Warsaw-planned closure of two Lithuanian schools in Poland, demanded the revocation of  the education law immediately. Poland’s MPs raised the issues of Tomasevski’s agenda: the writing of names and street signs. According to Irena Gasperaviciute, head of the Lithuanian community in Poland, Warsaw indeed allowed writing ethnic minority names in original letters on ID cards. However, only 51 Lithuanians living in Poland decided to re-Lithuanize their names in their ID cards because of the troubles related to it: banks, schools and other Polish institutions simply refuse to accept such names in Poland, according to Gasperaviciute, who decided to remain Gasperowicz in official papers.

The situation with names is as follows now (tolerance to foreign names is much lower in Poland): ethnic Lithuanian Vytautas Kamarauskas, living in Poland, is officially Witold Komorowski, while Pole Witold Komorowski, living in Lithuania, is officially Vitold Komorovski on the main page of his passport and Witold Komorowski on the other page of his passport if he wishes so. According to Gasperaviciute, there are no Lithuanian-language street signs in the Polish town of Punsk (Punskas), where 80 percent of the people speak Lithuanian, while such signs exist de facto in the Polish Electoral Action-controlled rural areas in the Vilnius region. There are Lithuanian-language names of villages on the road signs marking the entrance to a village or town in the tiny area around Punsk, but numerous Lithuanians living near that area can see only Polanized Lithuanian names on the road signs marking entrance to those villages and towns.

Piotr Tyma, leader of the Ukrainian community in Poland, Poland’s Belarusian MP Eugeniusz Czykwin and Poland’s German MP Ryszard Galla told Lietuvos Rytas (the April 9 issue) that the situation of education of ethnic minorities in their language is terrible and almost non-existent due to a chauvinistic atmosphere prevailing in Poland’s society. They said that Poland, instead of spending tens of millions of zlotys per year on propaganda among foreign Poles, would better start to care about the needs of its own minorities. Poland’s Ukrainian and Belarusian leaders stated that they are disgusted with obstacles to build monuments to victims of ethnic cleansing perpetrated in Poland by Polish guerillas of WWII and Polish troops after WWII, according to Lietuvos Rytas. Those leaders of ethnic minorities in Poland stated that they can only dream about the Lithuania-style land ownership restitution, according to the article in Lietuvos Rytas.