BootsnAll Travel Network

Interesting Lithuania

The Baltics…Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Are these in Central Europe or do we call this Eastern Europe…where is the line? We stop a few days in Vilnius Lithuania on the way to St. Petersburg Russia. It is an interesting country that has long identified itself as European (read–not Russian).

The political centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from the 13th to the end of the 18th century, Vilnius has had a profound influence on the cultural and architectural development of much of eastern Europe. Despite invasions and partial destruction, it has preserved an impressive complex of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classical buildings as well as its medieval layout and natural setting. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1989 an estimated 2,000,000 Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians literally joined hands in a human chain stretching the 650 kilometers between Vilnius and Tallinn to protest the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The following December 20 the Lithuanian Communist Party declares itself independent from the Communist Party of the USSR. In January 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev is heckled by 300,000 pro-independence demonstrators in Vilnius and in March the first free elections are held since 1940 but the following April Moscow imposes an economic blockade. The following January 1991 Soviet troops kill 14 unarmed civilians in an assault on Vilnius’ Television Tower. By August the Soviet putsch collapses, troops leave the buildings they’ve been occupying, and Lenin’s statue is removed from the city Center.

Lithuania is gaining status within the world community. The Dalai Lama visited Lithuania in 2001 and in 2002 George W. is the first ever US president to visit Vilnius. And of course, we NBA fans immediately think of the Trail Blazer’s own Arvydas Sabonis who put Lithuania’s basketball program on the map.

On the political front, according to the English language events magazine, “at present people are tired of populist politics, political infighting and they just want stability and peaceful life. Just this year they again voted in the conservative former President Valdad Adamkus (President 1998-2003) who everyone hopes will be a steady and successful person to “stand the test of power” as a partner in the Eu and Nato.

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