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The Russians in Lithuania: crisis in EU forces to forget the national distinctions

The chairman of the party “Lithuanian Russian Union”, the deputy of the Seim of the Lithuanian Republic in 2000-2004 Sergey Vasilyevich Dmitriyev answers the questions of the Internet portal “The world and we”.

- What problems does the Russian-speaking population of Lithuania face? Is it possible to get the high-grade education in the Russian, interaction with authorities?

The situation substantially changed in comparison with the period right after the disorder of the USSR. Then the country, in which we lived, disappeared, we were left and remained alone. Now there are some problems, but, of course, not such sharp as then. One of them is the language preservation at the Russian schools. It is a priority task of “Lithuanian Russian Union”. There was a period when the Russian schools were closed. Therefore in 2000 when I was the deputy of the Seim from “Lithuanian Russian Union”, we made the amendment providing the training of children of national minorities in the native language. Before, the training only of language was supposed and we made the amendment about education as a whole. Since then there are 22 Russian schools only in Vilnius.

Therefore, we have even more tolerant relation in many directions, than, for example, in Ukraine.

If there are some negative changes, they are more connected with a demographic problem in the state. Birth rate is low, there is a big migration. Many people went abroad after the accession to EU. And this problem mentions not only ethnic minorities, but also all Lithuania as a whole and native population.

There are some faculties in the higher education which are connected with training of the Russian language at Pedagogical University. There are no other specialties, for example, the jurisprudence. And there is a tendency that the youth of national minorities has no special aspiration to study the native language because our children initially know the Lithuanian language already well enough. And even the Russian-speaking youth has the higher entrance to the universities in the Lithuanian language in the percentage than the Lithuanians.

As to the Lithuanian schools, so the Russian language practically isn't taught. Also it happens that some young people from the Russian community, who work, for example, in a services sector, speak Russian with great difficulty or even don't speak Russian at all. Already the Lithuanian mass media write that such massed attack to languages of national minorities was in vain which gives subsequently more negative, than a positive.

Because the children need to live in the future, they should communicate. And our next neighbours are Belarus and Russia. The West looks attractive, but it is far and there is absolutely other mentality. Therefore if to speak about accommodation of ethnic minorities as a whole, in particular, the Russians in Lithuania, so it is necessary to distance our country from Latvia and Estonia. Since the very first days the so-called “zero” option of obtaining the citizenship was in Lithuania. It gave the chance to all people to be defined. The one, who was defined, obtained the citizenship, began to use the privileges, protection of the Constitution and legislative base. There are really the problems, when the person doesn't know the Lithuanian language – it will quite difficult to get the work. But thus the commercial structures can ignore the lack of language, though it is quite difficult to get the work in the state enterprises, of course.
The main problem of Lithuania now is a being aggravated economic crisis. The trouble has no nationality because all here have the same problems as in Europe and in the world.

Division on a national sign doesn't give the right to work which practically isn't present. Many people take the families and go to Europe, first of all, to Great Britain and Ireland where already there are considerable Lithuanian diasporas. For example, in Ireland the Lithuanian community in recent years increased in 4 times from 20 thousand to 80 thousand people. Earlier there lived the emigrants of the first wave, the pre-war and post-war period. Also it is the tragedy for the state, not connected with a nationality, but connected with an economic crisis. There is no work at the large enterprises as such. And people sit down in the car or the bus and quietly go to any country. For example, Germany opened the ample opportunities for legalization of employment and many go there. And the most capable citizens at the age of 25-45 years go there and Lithuania gradually turns into the country of children, pensioners and politicians who fight for the power.

Therefore it would be not correct to say that the Russians in Lithuania are kept down or pressed. There is no open opposition in the policy of the state concerning the ethnic minorities. Besides, this policy is regulated by the laws of EU and, as we know, there very “quivering” relation to immigrants, persons of other nationalities. But also in Lithuania always there was rather tolerant relation, it was always rather multinational, especially Vilnius. And there was never obvious, ardent fight. There was a separate period right after the disorder of the USSR, there were separate attacks. But every year it is “greased” for the simple reason – the economic difficulties concern all. And the main questions were how the person to survive than to know whether he is the Russian, the Lithuanian or the Pole.

- What is a situation with the Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania?

It is known that it rather numerous and persistently defends the interests.
Yes, the Poles very actively defend the rights and use various tactics for this purpose. They constantly support certain “degree” of tension in interests of political “ego”. For example, they demand to write the names of streets in the Polish in places of compact accommodation, demand that the Polish language was the second language there up to a cultural autonomy and also demand the return of some lands to the Polish communities and writing of surnames in the Latin. They strenuously fight entering such rule at registration of passports. It is the reasons for inflating of conflict situations and participation in political life, for receiving places in the power.

The more that the Polish ethnic minority is rather strengthened in some regions. There are purely Polish areas in the Vilnius region where 80-90 % of Poles live. The selective ability of them is better. One of such regions has already both the Polish mayor and about 90 % of deputies. And if there is a certain support from deputies, they demand more strengthened rights.

We, the Russians are not enough united, unfortunately. Many are scattered on the Lithuanian parties. Unfortunately, the Russian program of compatriots support in Lithuania works extremely poorly. For example, since 1997, the negotiations are carried on with the Government of Moscow and the construction of the House of Moscow in Vilnius and the Vilnius House in Moscow is planned. Already it is 2012 year, but this project still isn't realized. Already both a capsule was put and hands were shaken and a ribbon was cut. Thus there is some sense of shame before the Lithuanian politicians because, for example, the Polish House was built on the funds allocated by Poland within two years. And the various organizations, both our party, and our veterans constantly use that House, hold there every possible events. And our House still is in a construction and it is not known will it be finished or not.

Unfortunately, the funds allocated by Russia often spend only on cultural events in Lithuania, and there are no global, strategic actions.
The policy of Poland considerably differs in this regard. Everyone including the president interfere in questions, disturbing the Poles in Lithuania. Their president works directly with our president, he comes to the places of residence of the Poles. Recently he was in the Shvenchyonsk area, found out a situation. The active work is conducted at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The embassy constantly exposes every possible “notes” on various questions. And the Polish diaspora feels a certain support that the homeland doesn't forget them. Unfortunately, we don't see the support of such level therefore the Russian population has a certain confusion, a disorganization and apathy. Sometimes it appears to go more simply to London for work, than to Kaliningrad.

Besides, there is also a problem of generations. Our generation has the representation and memories of the Homeland, Russia. And the youth has already absolutely other representations in the absence of alternative. For them it is obvious to go to Sorbonne to study. It happens that the whole classes go to Ireland or England to study and work. But the most terrible is that they associate themselves not with Russia, but with the West. Thus, we lose our youth, our future. And those who remain are only we, who are 50 years old and more.

- How the reasons of the observed crisis in the country are estimated in Lithuania, do they consider that the main reason is the accession to EU?

In 2000-2004 when I was the member of the Seim, just there was a question of the accession to EU. Then there were rather big discussions concerning our negotiators. They aspired to enter EU at any cost, without looking at crushing terms which offered us. And, nevertheless, it occurred. Up to that the voting was carried out in two days – it was prolonged more than ever, carried out on Saturday and Sunday to collect the missing quantity of votes. These negotiators led that practically nothing functions. They took away even a nuclear power. The agriculture which always was famous is almost destroyed. Only small companies and farms remained. And now we practically have nothing – no any serious enterprises, except oil refining combine which is always taken – sell to one or to another or will ruin. The situation on the railway is characteristic. Now it is impossible to reach the Crimea directly from Vilnius. It is possible to leave only from Minsk, previously having received a transit visa. Because only the local lines are in operation where the trains with on two-three carriages go, “drive” from Vilnius to Klaipeda.

The European laws which are necessary for carrying out, probably, aren't bad for England or France, but they are enslaving for us. We raise the taxes, the prices for the goods of consumption and fuel. While we have nothing iridescent that was promised at the accession to EU.


- Does the recent introduction of criminal liability for public belittling of events of 1991 in Vilnius mean that the ideological course of the government become so unpopular, that the special articles of the Criminal Code are already necessary for its preservation?

We have the extremely radical, liberal and other political forces. Those who entered these amendments are our conservatives. All their political life, since the creation moment, is in a promotion and intimidation condition. It is the search of witches, charges, leaving in the past to distract from real affairs. Therefore, as to the population, nobody, except these politicians and a part of those who supports them, pay attention on this for a long time. Moreover, it often causes laughter. But, nevertheless, as the majority of such representatives are in the power, there are such events.

These are purely political ambitions of those groups which make such actions. But thus people who lived at that time, remember the positive sides of that period, naturally, are extremely irritated of such actions. “The well-fed don't understand the hungry” - the authorities have everything, they can send the children for studying abroad. And other segments of the population remember that earlier the education, medicine were free of charge, there was a possibility to reach enough high social results and to go on vacation at the expense of trade unions. Now many people can’t go to the local sea and even to pay for the apartment. Here are the main disagreements. And how the authorities can protect the situation in such conditions? So it is necessary to enter any article to the Criminal Code. But it is ridiculous –it doesn't work in society.

- How the population of Lithuania belongs to the celebration of “Day of revolt on June 23, 1941” which is devoted to anti-Soviet revolt under the direction of collaborationist “Front of the Lithuanian activists” in the first days of war and “Day of communism and Nazism victims” which is led on August 23?

These holidays are only for a certain circle of people who are supported by the relevant group of politicians. Unfortunately, the stirring up of neo-fascism is observed worldwide. The majority in the Lithuanian society doesn't support similar actions. It irritates, divides the society into groups and distracts from all pressing problems, political and economic.

On May 9 we carried out the parade under aegis of “Lithuanian Russian Union» on the 65th anniversary of Victory. Thus ten persons were in a protest of carrying out. There were two deputies from conservatives from them who cried out to us together with other group “Shame!” Thus about 600 people gathered on square, we carried out procession and then assigned the wreaths on a military cemetery. We observe this tradition regularly. I can say that it was the group of 10 people and no more. And as a whole, the action was absolutely normal, there were no provocations. Ordinary people welcomed us on streets. Though, we got the permission for action carrying out with great difficulty.

People understand that the main thing in life is not how you are at war, but how you are able to improve the relations. Here is both welfare and stability. And such tendency prevails much more than any radical moods. But for radicals it is their “living” and if to prove that they weren't right and their statements have no bases, so they are necessary to have the rest. Besides, they have nothing to appeal, call and there is nothing to tell, because the economic concept was not developed in fact. If they admit to Brussels, we live under laws which are created there. And they made nothing.

Therefore constantly look for the guilty – these attacked, we were ruined, they beat during the war, Russia doesn't pay compensation. And thus they are silent that ruined so many industrial enterprises, agriculture, that the tourist infrastructure, an advantageous geographical position of Lithuania is not used. Here is a radicalism in aspiration to cover the dull policy.

Viewed : 783   Commented: 0

Author: Mikhail Mikhaylov

Publication date : 10 October 2012 19:47

Source: The world and we

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