Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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Former soviet republic – where’s the evidence? At Grutas Park!

On our way to Druskinikai we stopped off at Grutas Park.
The 20 hectare site contains Soviet-era statues other Soviet relics from the times of the Lithuanian SSR. Founded in 2001 by mushroom magnate Viliumas Malinauskas.
After Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, various Soviet statues were taken down and dumped in different places. Malinauskas requested the Lithuanian authorities to grant him the possession of the sculptures, so that he could build a privately financed museum.

The theme park was created in the wetlands of the Dzūkija National Park. Many of its features are re-creations of Soviet Gulag prison camps: wooden paths, guard towers, and barbed-wire fences, plus weapons and vehicles from the soviet era.

The park also contains playgrounds and a café, where we sampled a typical soldiers meal – weak beetroot soup on aluminium plates, and drank some Gira, a local brew made from fermented rye  or black bread that is an acquired taste.

There are 86 statues, by 46 different sculptors, of the main Communist leaders and thinkers, (including Lithuanian socialist activists) such as Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Karl Marx.

One sculpture of the “Four Communards” is jokingly referred to as “waiting for a lift“.

There is also an office block containing posters and memorabilia.

It includes what is supposed to be a model of Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space.

We spent an interesting few hours there before heading on to Druskininkai (see previous post)


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Baltic Way Memorial Wall in Vilnius

P1000720Walk along Konstitucijos pr. from the city centre heading towards the Panorama shopping centre. As you come to the end of the road which you have to cross to get to the shops you see this wonderful memorial wall.

P1000501It has human shapes cut out of it and represents the Baltic Way, the unbroken line of 2 million people from Vilnius to Tallinn who protested about soviet occupation on August 23 1989.

DSCF1361Although the colours represent the Lithuanian flag, and each brick has the name of the person who contributed 25-50 Litas for it carved on it, if you look carefully you will also find bricks representing the flags of Latvia and Estonia.

P1000218It was officially unveiled on 24 August 2010

Additional material

Digging out my old video camera to take on holiday I found this piece of video I recorded in the castle where they display material about the wall and to which I referred in one of my blogs about the castle.

It looks like an amateur film but it could be a newsreel at the time.

Quality is not great as I’m copying an old film but I hope it’s of interest and you can see the original in the castle.


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Forest Brothers – the NATO history

One of my followers tweeted this NATO YouTube video. I think it’s no surprise that NATO has released this now given what’s happening in the Baltics.

Makes interesting viewing (and prompted RT to editorialize on it as if Russia didn’t have little green men with modern weapons working behind the lines in Ukraine).

See my earlier posts on this here and here


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Lithuania is not alone in fearing Putin

putinbalticsGraphic from the Sunday Times magazine.

Latvia and Estonia are also taking steps to create a resistance force for when the Russians invade – just like Lithuania’s Rifle Union.

The graphic shows the weak points, such as the Suwalki Gap through which the Russians can move from Kaliningrad, now a highly fortified military base..

Which idiots thought it was a good idea at the end of the second world war to give Russia that strip of land with access to the Baltics. Oh, we did!


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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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Vilnius……..happiest residents in Europe

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

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Ninety-eight percent of residents of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, were satisfied with life in their city in an EU survey taken last year, closely followed by Stockholm and Copenhagen at 97 percent each. The lowest satisfaction among EU capitals was in Athens at 71 percent, below Rome at 80 percent.

As a regular visitor to the city for the last 10 years I can confirm that it is a lovely city with a “home town” atmosphere about it. I still conducer it one of the undiscovered beauty spots of European cities.

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How Basketball, the Olympics and the Grateful Dead Forever Changed Lithuania

Lost Postcards

The Other Dream Team is a 2012 documentary that illustrates the importance basketball has played in Lithuania’s history and culminates in their participation in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Last week the Lithuanian Men’s basketball team was knocked out of the group round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. They wouldn’t continue to the semi-finals and had lost out on a shot at a 2016 Olympic medal. I watched my husband come home from work looking absolutely defeated at the news. I knew most other Lithuanians, which had undoubtedly watched the match, were experiencing a similar feeling. While other countries might just be disappointed in the loss, basketball is the pride and joy of Lithuania. So much so that it is called the “second religion” of the small country and there is nothing bigger than competing in the sport at the Olympics.

Basketball became popular in Lithuania during…

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