Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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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.


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

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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.


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Lithuania and the Jews, still a difficult question for the country……..but there is hope.

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

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It’s not every day that Lithuanian high school students block the entrance to their school to keep out their principal and demand the return to work of a beloved teacher who, in their opinion, was unfairly dismissed. In fact, as far as I could determine, the action taken recently by students at the Laisves (freedom) Gymnasium (high school) in Naujoji Vilnia, a suburb of the capital, Vilnius (Vilna), is unprecedented since Lithuania regained its independence in 1990.

So what prompted this unusual case of student insubordination, which garnered headlines in the largest of the Baltic republics? At this point, we must differentiate between the official version of the story and what appears to be the real reason for the events which took place at the high school several weeks ago. According to the principal, the teacher in question, Marius Janulevicius, who teaches Lithuanian language and literature, had spoken harshly to…

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Lithuania’s partisans rise again

eoh8vzfswic_dqzkbruhplitjkgjc9qrjxgt_jnok0fhbygyd7md7rul-simktkvcbpurrms114The Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, a civilian paramilitary force, is preparing for the worst as Putin threatens the security of the Baltic states in his attempts to create a new soviet union under his leadership.

Formed in 1914 but disbanded by the soviets in 1940 they have been re-formed since independence and seen their numbers grow, tripling since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to about 10,000 members including former servicemen. (See history here).

Many Lithuanians see the Ukrainian war (not to mention the annexation of Crimea) as just the start of Russia’s plan to recapture its near neighbours including the Baltic states. They are not alone. Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Moldova, all former Warsaw Pact states, also feel vulnerable at the creation of “Novo Russia”.

ca9468aa749cb3de8a728ea163ab5530Lithuania has reintroduced conscription and produced a booklet on what to do in the case of an invasion. It’s also warned NATO about the build-up of nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, the strip of land between Poland and Lithuania which Russia took from Germany.

Russia claims it has to do that to counter the threat from the NATO build-up in the region – battalions of 1,000 men, one each to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (where the British contingent is based).

Kaliningrad also gives Russia access to the Baltic Sea where it is said to have committed “military hooliganism” by harassing merchant shipping.

Lithuania is currently the only NATO country to provide weapons to Ukraine , because “The Ukrainians are basically fighting the Russian Army” and thinks NATO should do more.

As for the riflemen, although they will be heavily outnumbered, they are preparing for guerrilla warfare in the forests of Lithuania. They have just been allowed to keep their semi-automatic weapons and ammunition at home to be better prepared.

dsc00072Anyone visiting the Museum of Genocide in the old KGB HQ in Vilnius will see memorabilia from the past including information about the partisans – who fought a bloody campaign. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that again.

This story was widely reported in the Independent, the Daily Mail and the Times.


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Lithuanians treated as slaves win £1 million damages

chick_in_egg_pc_1600_clr_1679A shocking story of modern-day slavery emerged this week as six Lithuanian migrants won more than £1million in damages and legal costs. Ten more cases are expected to follow.

The Lithuanian chicken-catchers were trafficked to work for D J Houghton Chicken Catching Serives which produced eggs for high street brands including McDonalds, Tesco, Asda, M&S and Sainsbury’s. The men aged between 19 and 58 were employed to catch chickens in barns and load them onto trucks to be taken for processing.

Darrell and Jacqueline Houghton, the owners of the company based in Kent, agreed the compensation after a High Court found that they failed to pay the national minimum wage, made unlawful deductions from wages and failed to provide adequate facilities for washing, resting, eating and drinking.

To add to their misery the workers had to work back-to-back eight hour shifts for days at a time and were denied sleep and toilet facilities forcing them to use water bottles and carrier bags in minibuses as they travelled between jobs around the UK.

They were also threatened and assaulted by fellow Lithuanians who worked as supervisors and who intimidated them with fighting dogs.

The Houghtons didn’t admit liability but admitted paying a man to find workers for their business who in turn trafficked them to the UK. The case came to light when some of the workers went to the Citizens Advice Bureau for help.

When Kent Police and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority conducted raids on houses owned by the Houghtons they freed more than 30 men all of whom were believed to be victims of trafficking for labour exploitation.

The legal team which brought the case said “We are extremely pleased to have achieved this result for our clients as it will go a huge way towards helping them rebuild their lives”.

The supermarkets said at the time they were shocked and would ensure their ethical standards were met. Just audit your supply chains better!