Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view

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General Jonas Žemaitis

This statue stands outside the ministry of defence in Vilnius (there is also one in Kaunas) and the national military academy has been re-named after him. But what do we actually know about this man also known as Vytautas, Luke, Matthew, the Silent, who was elected a Brigadier General and posthumously as a President? 

Like much of Lithuania’s recent history under multiple occupations it seems there are gaps and differing views about this complex “hero”. It’s known he served in the soviet army then surrendered to the Nazis before joining the partisans.

Read more about him here on the Defending History blog (which argues he has been raised to prominence by the” cult of the partisans”. See post on partisans)

or here.

Make up your own mind.


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Autism “locked in” stunt backfires

Looks like a Lithuanian women acted to get stunt cancelled. Good for her!

Mike the Psych's Blog

The Caudwell Children Charity (founded by phone millionaire John Caudwell) has abandoned its “Locked in for Autism” stunt after criticism from people on an online petition which said that it was offensive to suggest that’s how people with an autistic spectrum disorder had to live their lives.

Alexis Ragaliauskas has autism and set up the petition saying “It’s very dehumanising and insulting. Caudwell Children need to get with the times. They are saying autism is like being trapped in a box which is offensive – quite a lot of autistic people throughout history have been restrained and put in boxes”.

Tesco is a big supporter of such causes and a member of staff at the Burnley branch volunteered to stay in the glass box for 50 hours (see my post).

Tesco has now withdrawn its support for the stunt. Whether because of the petition or perhaps the…

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Artist gone missing?

One of the nice things about visiting a city regularly is that you can catch up on old friend and acquaintances  – if you can find them.

I’ve already posted about the Piccolo Canopi (Little Hooves) restaurant disappearing and the Taste of Lithuania cafe bistro.

This time it wasn’t an eating place I was looking for but an artist’s studio on the corner of šv Kazimierz g. where I met Cica, the artist, playing a vinyl record by Dave Stewart and Candy Dufler over and over again, particularly the haunting track “Lily was here”.

But no sign of Cica and certainly no Lily. The studio was now a fashion design studio. I went inside and asked but the staff didn’t know where he’d gone. I eventually found him on Facebook when I got home so hope he is well?

It’s perhaps no surprise he has gone as the area is undergoing a process of gentrification.

I’d already noticed the refurbished buildings next to the derelict church on Savičiaus g.

Then as I turned the corner and walked up Bokšto g. towards the old artillery bastion (basteja) I saw new walls rising above the old ones.

Then the banner advertising the new development. Very upmarket indeed. (And to think I once contemplated buying an apartment in Vilnius)

So just a reminder of how the studio used to look. Part of the quirkiness in Vilnius that seems to be fast disappearing.

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War with Russia – a book worth reading

Here’s a book worth reading if you are at all interested in Russia’s aggressive behaviour towards former soviet union countries on its borders and its threat to world peace. 

Written by someone who knows what they are talking about (General Sir Richard Shirreff was Deputy Supreme Commander Europe for NATO) it’s a Tom Clancy type novel.

The action starts in Ukraine with the kidnapping of US trainers by Russian special forces and attacks on US jets by Russian fighters but soon moves to the Baltics demonstrating the high risks faced by these countries.

NATO is seen as largely ineffectual initially as its members have continually cut back on defence budgets or not contributed their agreed share to it.

However due respect is paid to the resistance movements in the Baltics referred to as the Forest Brothers

Without spoiling the plot for readers this book is bang up-to-date (it even has Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the opposition in the UK) but will make uncomfortable reading.


No third time lucky for man who fell in love with a Lithuanian girl


David Harris, a 69-year-old retired TV producer,  fell in love with Ugne Cekaviciute, a Lithuanian girl he says he met in a brothel.

He ran up large debts entertaining her in expensive hotels and lavishing gifts on her and decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her but his partner Hazel Allinson, aged 69 and a TV scriptwriter, had all the money and the £800,000 country house.

So he decided to have her killed and sought out who he thought might do the job as a contract killer.

  1. The first man, a mechanic and a trainee private investigator, panicked when he realised it wasn’t a debt collection job and told the man’s wife
  2. The second man he approached told the police
  3. The third man he approached was an undercover police officer

So not a happy ending for Mr Harris who had promised the contract killers £250,000 to do the job so he could retire to the seaside with his much younger girlfriend, a 28-year old graduate from Vytautus Magnus University (an institution I know from my time in Kaunas studying there). And he should have know better as he was a TV producer on the popular police series The Bill!

His trial continues but it’s not going to be a happy ending for anyone!

Update 22/5/17

David Harris was found guilty last week of soliciting Hazel Allison’s murder after just 5 hours deliberation by the jury. The judge has ordered him to be assessed for a personality disorder.

His partner, Hazel Allison, whom he tried to have killed, refused to give evidence against him even though she knew Harris had spent tens of thousands of pounds of her money on Miss Cekaviciute whom he met in a brothel in Worthing. She also refused to make a victim impact statement and doesn’t believe he should have been charged.

Ugne Cekaviciute denies she is a sex worker and plans to write a book about their 5-year relationship. She was a member of the Lithuanian basketball team as a teenager but moved to Britain in 2010 as a flower picker after dropping out of university. She then moved to London working as a waitress, in an hotel accounts department and as a carer for people with disabilities.

She met Harris in 2011 when she was working in a brothel in Worthing and he helped her to enrol on a business studies course and helped her with her homework. He also bought her presents and paid for her flights home to see her family. She lived with her younger brother and his family and apparently Harris had no idea that she was a prostitute, although he used them regularly.

She said “we are just friends. He was dreaming about more” and her mother described him as a fantasist, childish and infantile. Funny that when the police arrested Harris in an hotel in Balham they found them lying together naked. However since being held in Belmarsh prison he has converted to catholicism and considers himself a changed man.