Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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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 “Novorossiya”.

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!


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Goodbye Piccolo Canopi and sėkmės

You’ve probably gathered from my last post that we like our food in Lithuania. And one of our favourite places was the little cafe round the corner from the Shakespeare Hotel in Vilnius, Piccolo Canopi. I hadn’t been to Vilnius for a couple of years but a fellow blogger posted a review in February this year so I knew it was still there.p1010244

The cafe was opened in October 2010 by Tadas and Karolina Zukauskais and it coincided with Tadas’s birthday. So as I was there in October I thought I’d pop in and wish him happy birthday as my colleague did on a previous trip when I couldn’t make it.

p1030937But it wasn’t there! Gone. Replaced by a linen shop.

The lovely lady who ran the shop, Ūla, didn’t know where they had gone. But she was happy to tell me that she and her Ukrainian husband Vitaly were planning to move to the UK. So everyone’s moving.

Wherever you have gone , Tadas, Karolina and the twins, Good luck for the future. I enjoyed your lovely restaurant and appreciated your kindness.


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The beautiful people defy the weather and turn out in Vilnius

Walking up Pilies g. towards the old town hall I noticed preparations going on outside the Du Broliai Boutique.p1000800

I wandered up Stiklių g. to Mamma Mia’s for a coffee and  a cake and to check out the neighbourhood.

Was Mamma Mia even still there, and the silversmith at terra recognita galerija, and Markus ir Ko? Thankfully yes to all three.

Refreshed I walked back in the gathering gloom and found the reception in full swing. A large screen, a repetitive, forgettable music-by-numbers soundtrack, and waiters offering glasses of bubbly around – but not to bystanders. Of whom there were many, including a couple of Japanese tourists with the longest lenses I’ve ever seen not on TV.p1000804p1000805p1000804

Ah well, at least the guests were undaunted by the cold damp weather (must have wreaked havoc with their hair though).


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I’m just singing in the rain……………..in Vilnius (or six days of virtual non stop inclement weather)

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

At the beginning of October I returned to Vilnius with my friend and colleague Mike (who had not visited for a couple of years because of illness) and we were both looking forward to visiting some of our old haunts, including Bistro 18, the Kitchen and the finest steak house in the city Markus ir Ko. In the latters case I have to report that although the food is still as good the, customer service still leaves a lot to be desired. I think it is something to do with it being a “pub” atmosphere and all male staff (an occasional smile wouldn’t go amiss). There is however, on selected night an excellent jazz pianist who is extremely talented and on the last visit did a magnificent improvisation on Billy Strayhorns “Take the A Train”

IMGP2157.jpg The Hill of Three Crosses in autumn

Anyway, we spent six days in the city…

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