Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #848 Walkin’ the Snake in the Baltic States

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Arch­bish­op Briz­gys

Sajud­is Sup­port­ers

Intro­duc­tion: Ana­lyz­ing the resus­ci­ta­tion of Baltic Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans and their ide­ol­o­gy, as well as the pro­jec­tion of their revi­sion­ist his­to­ry into the polit­i­cal life of their coun­tries, we set the devel­op­ments forth against the sce­nario pre­sent­ed in Ser­pen­t’s Walk.

In that Nazi tract, the SS go under­ground in the after­math of World War II, build up their eco­nom­ic mus­cle, buy into the opin­ion-form­ing media, infil­trate the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary, and–following a series of ter­ror­ist inci­dents in the U.S. which cause the dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law–take over the Unit­ed States.

Cen­tral to this takeover is the use of the Nazi-con­trolled main­stream media to fun­da­men­tal­ly revise his­to­ry in a pro-Hitler fash­ion. Just such a revi­sion is under­way in the Baltic states.

In the Baltic states, march­es hon­or­ing Waf­fen SS units com­prised of their cit­i­zens are gain­ing grav­i­tas. They are espous­ing revi­sion­ist his­to­ry which stands polit­i­cal real­i­ty on its head, with the Baltic Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans groups being re-cast as “Free­dom Fight­ers.”

Note that the val­ues they espouse are–theoretically at least–directly counter to those espoused by the Euro­pean Union. The EU has, how­ev­er, been con­spic­u­ous­ly silent.

In addi­tion to cel­e­brat­ing the Nazi past, the Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans’ con­tin­gents are asso­ci­at­ed with polit­i­cal par­ties that espouse a racist and fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy.

 The Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans’ march attracts par­tic­i­pants from oth­er coun­tries’ Waf­fen SS con­tin­gents. Of para­mount impor­tance is the fact that these Third Reich vet­er­ans are teach­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal and oper­a­tional ropes to a new gen­er­a­tion of Nazis . As dis­cussed in FTR #841, it is a mis­take to use the term “neo-Nazi”–the new gen­er­a­tion is inher­it­ing the lega­cy from the orig­i­nal World War II par­tic­i­pants and is poised to car­ry that on and ful­fill Hitler’s dic­tum.

Flag of the Lithuan­ian Rifle­men’s Union

Rem­i­nis­cent of the Nazi “pun­ish­er bat­tal­ions,” the Lithuan­ian Rifle­men’s Union–a fas­cist militia–has been expand­ed to meet the so-called “Russ­ian threat.” Like the OUN/B’s mil­i­tary wing–the UPA–the Lithuan­ian Rifle­man’s Union con­tin­ued the com­bat of World War II until the ear­ly 1950’s. Formed dur­ing the wan­ing days of the Sec­ond World War, they jumped from the Third Reich to the Office of Pol­i­cy Coor­di­na­tion, a CIA/State Depart­ment oper­a­tional direc­torate. (This is cov­ered in FTR #777, as well as AFA #1.

 Next, the pro­gram excerpts AFA #36, detail­ing the pro­jec­tion of World War II-era fas­cist ele­ments into Lithua­nia by the mis-named Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy.

The re-emer­gence of Baltic Waf­fen SS units is to be seen against the back­ground of the Cru­sade For Free­dom, the same “op” that result­ed in the pro­jec­tion of the OUN/B fas­cists into Ukraine fol­low­ing the over­throw of Yanukovich.

An ille­gal domes­tic covert oper­a­tion, the CFF brought Nazi allies such as the OUN/B, the Croa­t­ian Ustachi, the Roman­ian Iron Guard, the Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross, the Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Front and oth­ers into the Unit­ed States in order to dri­ve the polit­i­cal spec­trum to the right.

As of 1952, the  CFF became inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the GOP, with Arthur Bliss Lane play­ing a key role in the GOP’s 1952 cam­paign, as well as being cen­tral­ly involved in the CFF. The CFF spawned the GOP’s eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion, which was able to deliv­er the swing vote in five key states in Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion years. It even­tu­al­ly became a per­ma­nent part of the GOP.

Con­ceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was over­seen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesper­son was Ronald Rea­gan. The State Depart­ment offi­cial respon­si­ble for bring­ing “fas­cist free­dom fight­ers” into the Unit­ed States was William Casey (Ronald Rea­gan’s cam­paign man­ag­er in the 1980 Pres­i­den­tial race and lat­er Rea­gan’s CIA direc­tor.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a per­ma­nent branch of the Repub­li­can Part when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

It is note­wor­thy that the orga­ni­za­tions that were rep­re­sent­ed in the GOP sub­group were all affil­i­at­ed with the SS dur­ing World War II. They were also inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Rein­hard Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion.

Per­haps the most impor­tant effect of the Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion was to intro­duce “roll­back” or “lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry” into Amer­i­can strate­gic think­ing. Roll­back was a polit­i­cal wafare and covert oper­a­tion strat­e­gy which had its gen­e­sis in the Third Reich Ost­min­is­teri­um head­ed by Alfred Rosen­berg. This strat­e­gy entailed enlist­ing the aid of dis­si­dent Sovi­et eth­nic minori­ties to over­throw the Sovi­et Union. In return, these minori­ties and their respec­tive republics were to be grant­ed nom­i­nal inde­pen­dence while serv­ing as satel­lite states of “Greater Ger­many.”

In its Amer­i­can incar­na­tion, lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry called for “rolling back” com­mu­nism out of East­ern Europe and the break-up of the Sovi­et Union into its con­stituent eth­nic Republics. Lip-ser­vice was giv­en to ini­ti­at­ing democ­ra­cy in the “lib­er­at­ed” coun­tries. Lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry was pro­ject­ed into main­stream Amer­i­can polit­i­cal con­scious­ness through the Cru­sade for Free­dom.

The piv­otal impor­tance of the CFF in the devel­op­ments now unfold­ing in East­ern Europe, the Baltic states and Ukraine in par­tic­u­lar, could not be over­stat­ed. The Nazi ele­ments shep­herd­ed by the CFF were nur­tured in the GOP and asso­ci­at­ed ele­ments of U.S. intel­li­gence, exert­ed a deci­sive influ­ence on U.S. Cold War pol­i­cy and were ulti­mate­ly pro­ject­ed into the for­mer Sovi­et Union and East­ern Europe, where they are per­vert­ing his­to­ry and pol­i­tics in the man­ner set forth in Ser­pen­t’s Walk.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: 

  • The role of Arch­bish­op Briz­gys in sup­port­ing the Holo­caust in Lithua­nia.
  • Lithua­ni­a’s emer­gence as the sec­ond fas­cist coun­try in Europe in the 1920’s.
  • Lithuan­ian Catholic Relief’s sup­port for revan­chist fas­cists in Lithua­nia.
  • The Sajud­is par­ty as a vehi­cle for the revival of fas­cism in Lithua­nia.
  • The fear inspired by Sajud­is in Lithuan­ian cit­i­zens.

1. In the Baltic states, march­es hon­or­ing Waf­fen SS units com­prised of their cit­i­zens are gain­ing grav­i­tas. They are espous­ing revi­sion­ist his­to­ry which stands polit­i­cal real­i­ty on its head, with the Baltic Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans groups being re-cast as “Free­dom Fight­ers.”

Note that the val­ues they espouse are–theoretically at least–directly counter to those espoused by the Euro­pean Union. The EU has, how­ev­er, been con­spic­u­ous­ly silent.

“Four Baltic March­es, One Dan­ger­ous Racist Trend” by Efraim Zuroff; i24 news; 2/15/2015.

This com­ing week will see the open­ing of what I refer to as “Baltic Neo-Naz­i/Ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist March Month.” With­in exact­ly 29 days, four such march­es will take place in the cap­i­tal cities of the Baltic Euro­pean Union mem­bers — Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia. And while there obvi­ously are dif­fer­ent local nuances, the sim­i­lar­i­ties between the march­es are far too numer­ous to ignore, reflect­ing a dan­ger­ous trend, which deserves to be treat­ed seri­ously by Brus­sels.

All the march­es are being spon­sored by right-wing orga­ni­za­tions with fas­cist sym­pa­thies and zero tol­er­ance for local minori­ties. At past march­es in Lithua­nia, the most pop­u­lar slo­gan shout­ed was “Lietu­va lietu­vams” (Lithua­nia for Lithua­ni­ans); and in Esto­nia, it has already been announced that the theme of this year’s march will be “Eesti eest­lastele” (Esto­nia for Esto­ni­ans). In oth­er words, as far as they are con­cerned, only eth­nic Lithua­ni­ans or Esto­ni­ans belong in their coun­try.

The spon­sors also share a crit­i­cal view of the accept­ed nar­ra­tive of World War II and the Holo­caust, which includes the exten­sive and zeal­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion by tens of thou­sands of Lithua­ni­ans, Lat­vians and Esto­ni­ans in the mass anni­hi­la­tion of not only their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens, but also of thou­sands of Jews deport­ed from else­where in Europe to the Baltic coun­tries to be mur­dered there, as well as tens of thou­sands of Jews mur­dered by secu­rity police units from Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia in Belarus. As far as the orga­niz­ers are con­cerned, the real “geno­cide” was that sup­pos­edly com­mit­ted in the Baltics by the Com­mu­nists, where­as the Holo­caust was pri­mar­ily a respite from the two peri­ods of Sovi­et repres­sion and per­se­cu­tion in 1940–1941 and 1944–1991.

The revi­sion­ist bent of the marchers was bold­ly evi­dent in both Lithua­nia and Latvia in pre­vi­ous such events. Thus, for exam­ple, the Lat­vian march is osten­si­bly to hon­or the locals who fought along­side the Nazis in the two Lat­vian SS divi­sions, whom the marchers seek to por­tray as Lat­vian free­dom fight­ers. They con­ve­niently for­get three impor­tant his­tor­i­cal facts: that the goal of these divi­sions was a vic­tory of the Third Reich, that Nazi Ger­many had absolute­ly no inten­tion of grant­ing Latvia inde­pen­dence even if it had won the war, and that among these so-called “Lat­vian heroes” were quite a few for­mer mem­bers of the Lat­vian Secu­rity Police who had active­ly par­tic­i­pated in the mass mur­der of Jews, local and for­eign.

In Lithua­nia, promi­nently dis­played among the nation­al­ist heroes was Juozas Ambraze­vi­cius, the Prime Min­is­ter of the Lithuan­ian Pro­vi­sional Gov­ern­ment estab­lished in July 1941, which ful­ly sup­ported the Third Reich and encour­aged Lithua­ni­ans to par­tic­i­pate in the mass mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens, hard­ly a qual­i­fi­ca­tion for glo­ri­fi­ca­tion. At these march­es, Lithuan­ian swastikas, a slight­ly altered ver­sion of the Nazi orig­i­nal to avoid legal prob­lems, were a very com­mon sight.

All four march­es are being held in the main avenues of the cap­i­tal cities, and three of them are cel­e­bra­tions of local inde­pen­dence days. The first march, on Feb­ru­ary 16 in Kau­nas, which was the cap­i­tal of the first Lithuan­ian repub­lic in mod­ern times, marks the inde­pen­dence grant­ed in 1918. The sec­ond, a week lat­er, on Feb­ru­ary 23 in Tallinn, marks Eston­ian inde­pen­dence, and the third, which will be held in the cen­ter of Vil­nius on March 11, marks the renew­al of Lithuan­ian inde­pen­dence in 1990. (The Lat­vian march, which will be held in Riga on March 16, is linked to a his­toric bat­tle of the Lat­vian Legion.) The com­bi­na­tion of exclu­sion­ist nation­al­ist slo­gans with the achieve­ment of free­dom for the Baltic peo­ples is a tox­ic com­bi­na­tion which sends a racist, xeno­pho­bic and anti-Semit­ic mes­sage which, at least in the­ory, runs counter to the val­ues of the Euro­pean Union.

...

2. In addi­tion to cel­e­brat­ing the Nazi past, the Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans’ con­tin­gents are asso­ci­at­ed with polit­i­cal par­ties that espouse a racist and fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy.

“Nazi Hunter: Even Putin Would Con­demn Nurem­berg-esque Parades in Esto­nia” by Dr. Efraim Zuroff; IB Times; 3/3/2015.

The torch­light parade held by right-wing ultra­na­tion­al­ists last week in the Eston­ian cap­i­tal of Tallinn remind­ed the Russ­ian jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event of sim­i­lar spec­ta­cles in Nazi Ger­many, but this was more wish­ful think­ing on their part than actu­al real­i­ty.

They were out in full force this past Tues­day night,but unfor­tu­nately, they were the only for­eign tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event, with not a sin­gle rep­re­sen­ta­tive of any Euro­pean Union mem­ber country’s media in atten­dance.

...

The Euro­pean Union, on the oth­er hand, does not appear to be par­tic­u­larly per­turbed by gen­uinely dis­turb­ing phe­nom­ena in the Baltic coun­tries and else­where, which, of course, would in no way jus­tify Russ­ian aggres­sion, but deserve to be han­dled seri­ously and prompt­ly before they get out of hand.

Tuesday’s march, which was spon­sored by the Sinine Ara­tus (Blue Awak­en­ing) youth move­ment, close­ly affil­i­ated with the Eston­ian Con­ser­v­a­tive People’s Par­ty (EKRE), was a good exam­ple of at least one of the major prob­lems we increas­ingly encounter in post-Com­mu­nist East­ern Europe, and espe­cially in the Baltics. I am refer­ring to the rise of eth­no­cen­tric sen­ti­ment, a euphemism for racism, anti-Semi­tism, and xeno­pho­bia.

Thus the march was pub­li­cised under the slo­gan of ‘Esto­nia for Esto­ni­ans,’ an explic­it mes­sage of zero tol­er­ance for Estonia’s minori­ties, among them fam­i­lies who have lived in the coun­try for gen­er­a­tions. The announce­ment also bore the sym­bols of the “sis­ter” par­ties in Lithua­nia and in Latvia, whose plat­forms advo­cate the same eth­no­cen­tric­i­ty.

In addi­tion, the only sign I saw besides the one held by the lead marchers which said ‘For Esto­nia,’ bore a white suprema­cy mes­sage. In fact, IB Times UK report­ed not that long ago on a state­ment by Mart Helme, a lead­ing mem­ber of the EKRE, who said that the pol­icy in Esto­nia towards Africans should be, “If you’re black, go back.” When ques­tioned about this state­ment by the Eston­ian dai­ly Pos­timees, Helme respond­ed that he would not allow polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness to silence his opin­ions.

Rewrit­ing Nazi his­to­ry

The oth­er omnipresent prob­lem in the Baltics was not in evi­dence this past Tues­day night, but is def­i­nitely in the back­ground.

As past march­es by Baltic ultra­na­tion­al­ists have clear­ly demon­strated,one of their key goals is to rewrite the nar­ra­tive of World War II and the Holo­caust to hide the exten­sive lethal com­plic­ity of local Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and pro­mote the canard of his­tor­i­cal equiv­a­lency between Com­mu­nist and Nazi crimes, often com­monly referred to as the “dou­ble geno­cide the­o­ry.”

A very impor­tant ele­ment of this cam­paign is the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of cer­tain anti-Com­mu­nists, despite their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­se­cu­tion and mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens dur­ing the Holo­caust.

This ele­ment was on dis­play last week in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia and will cer­tainly be fea­tured in Vil­nius and Riga in the march­es sched­uled for mid-March. In Esto­nia, this revi­sion­ism is on dis­play at the annu­al gath­er­ing of SS vet­er­ans held in Sin­i­mae every sum­mer, and host­ed by the vet­er­ans of the 20th Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion, which is attend­ed by SS vet­er­ans from many Euro­pean coun­tries in which such gath­er­ings are ille­gal.

...

3. The Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans’ march attracts par­tic­i­pants from oth­er coun­tries’ Waf­fen SS con­tin­gents. Of para­mount impor­tance is the fact that these Third Reich vet­er­ans are teach­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal and oper­a­tional ropes to a new gen­er­a­tion of Nazis . As dis­cussed in FTR #841, it is a mis­take to use the term “neo-Nazi”–the new gen­er­a­tion is inher­it­ing the lega­cy from the orig­i­nal World War II par­tic­i­pants and is poised to car­ry that on and ful­fill Hitler’s dic­tum.

The Waf­fen-SS as Free­dom Fight­ers” by Per Anders Rudling; The Alge­meiner; 1/31/2012.

Despised and ostra­cized, the Swedish com­mu­nity of Waf­fen–SS vol­un­teers long gath­ered in secre­cy on “The Day of the Fall­en,” for obscure rit­u­al­is­tic annu­al gath­er­ings at a ceme­tery in a Stock­holm sub­urb.

Since the 1990s, the rit­u­als have not need­ed to be clan­des­tine: the few, now very elder­ly sur­vivors now head to Sin­imäe, Esto­nia, where they feel they are now get­ting the hon­or to which they are enti­tled. Here, Swedish, Nor­we­gian, Aus­trian, Ger­man and oth­erWaf­fen–SS vet­er­ans from West­ern Europe meet up with their Eston­ian com­rades. The annu­al gath­er­ings include those who vol­un­teered for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons, and who are today active­ly pass­ing on the expe­ri­ences to a new gen­er­a­tion of neo-Nazis.

In pre­vi­ous years, Mart Laar, the Eston­ian min­is­ter of defense sent offi­cial greet­ing to the vet­er­ans. Eston­ian gov­ern­ment endorse­ment of these events means in effect that an EU mem­ber state is under­writ­ing the Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans’ own claims that they con­sti­tuted a pan-Euro­pean force, who were more­over pio­neers of Euro­pean uni­fi­ca­tion.

Accord­ing to the Tageszeitung, this March the Eston­ian par­lia­ment will con­sider a law, which would for­mally des­ig­nate the Eston­ian Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans as “Free­dom Fight­ers.” The law, pro­moted by Mart Laar’s right-wing nation­al­ist Isamaa par­ty, rep­re­sents a fourth attempt by the Isamaa to pass such a law. Pre­vi­ous efforts were made in 2005, 2006, and 2010. Last win­ter the Eston­ian prime min­is­ter Andrus Ansip sent the Eston­ian Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans a let­ter, in which he thanked them for their ser­vice to the Eston­ian peo­ple.

In doing so, Esto­nia would con­firm its lead­ing role in reha­bil­i­tat­ing the Waf­fen–SS. Across Europe, Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans and their admir­ers are fol­low­ing the devel­op­ments in Esto­nia and Latvia. Nowhere in Europe have these vet­er­ans been rec­og­nized by gov­ern­ments . The Esto­ni­ans and Lat­vians were (and are) break­ing a taboo, set­ting a prece­dent for oth­ers to fol­low.

...

Like their Scan­di­na­vian com­rades, the Ger­man Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans per­ceive them­selves as a vic­tim­ized and mis­un­der­stood group, sec­ond class cit­i­zens, vic­tims of vic­tors’ jus­tice. They have gen­er­ally not been enti­tled to state pen­sions for vet­er­ans.

Out­side of Europe, Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans have been more suc­cess­ful in gain­ing accep­tance for their own nar­ra­tive. In Cana­da, gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, in the name of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism have agreed to share the con­struc­tion cost for mon­u­ments with the asso­ci­a­tion of the Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS (1st Ukrain­ian), bet­ter known at the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. Pub­lic insti­tu­tions of high­er edu­ca­tion insti­tute endow­ments in the hon­or of Ukrain­ian Waf­fen–SS vol­un­teers. [!]

To the dis­ap­point­ment of the extreme right, for­mer Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko (in office 2005–2010) did not fol­low up his reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the most impor­tant inter­war Ukrain­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion, the OUN, with a reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. To the Ukrain­ian far right, Latvia and Esto­nia have become a source of inspi­ra­tion and an exam­ple to emu­late. Much like the cur­rent Eston­ian prime min­is­ter, Andrus Ansip, the lead­ing Ukrain­ian ultra-nation­al­ist par­ty, the All Ukrain­ian Asso­ci­a­tion Svo­boda, which dom­i­nates local pol­i­tics in sev­eral West­ern Ukrain­ian cities, denies that hon­or­ing Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans has any­thing to do with neo-Nazi ide­ol­ogy.
...

In April 2011 Svo­boda cel­e­brated the 68th anniver­sary of the estab­lish­ment of the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. Lviv was dec­o­rated with bill­boards refer­ring to the vet­er­ans of the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien as “the trea­sure of the nation,” accom­pa­nied by the slo­gan “They defend­ed Ukraine.” The far right marched through Lviv with cries like “Gali­cia – Divi­sion of heroes!,” and “One race, one nation, one Father­land!” In time for the Euro 2012, a Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien taxi com­pany was estab­lished.

These process­es are inter­linked. The Eston­ian and Lat­vian gov­ern­ments’ par­tial recog­ni­tion grant­ed their pre­sum­ably hero­ic Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans is part of a larg­er nar­ra­tive of apolo­get­ics and obfus­ca­tion.

...

In fact, a Nazi vic­tory, for which the Waf­fen–SS was employed, would have meant the per­ma­nent dis­ap­pear­ance of Esto­nia, the pop­u­la­tion of which was ear­marked for destruc­tion by the Gen­er­alplan Ost, which stip­u­lated that only 50% of Esto­ni­ans could be Ger­man­ized. That dis­cus­sion would have there­by pre­cluded this dis­cus­sion in the first place.

Thus, that gov­ern­ment that has itself pro­filed from an elab­o­rate vic­tim­iza­tion nar­ra­tive mak­ing Esto­nia a Euro­pean cen­ter of grav­ity for Waf­fen–SS nos­tal­gists is deeply iron­ic.

Unlike most plants, these sort of cults grow in the shade. The Eston­ian gov­ern­ment does not want inter­na­tional expo­sure on this. Yet, that is exact­ly what is need­ed.

The nos­tal­gia for the Waf­fen–SS “free­dom fight­ers” is not mere­ly an Eston­ian con­cern It is a Euro­pean con­cern. It is an inter­na­tional con­cern.

4.  Rem­i­nis­cent of the Nazi “pun­ish­er bat­tal­ions,” the Lithuan­ian Rifle­man’s Union–a fas­cist militia–has been expand­ed to meet the so-called “Russ­ian threat.” Like the OUN/B’s mil­i­tary wing–the UPA–the Lithuan­ian Rifle­man’s Union con­tin­ued the com­bat of World War II until the ear­ly 1950’s. Formed dur­ing the wan­ing days of the Sec­ond World War, they jumped from the Third Reich to the Office of Pol­i­cy Coor­di­na­tion, a CIA/State Depart­ment oper­a­tional direc­torate. (This is cov­ered in FTR #777, as well as AFA #1.

“Russ­ian Threat Sees Rebirth of Lithua­nia Para­mil­i­tary Group” [Agence France-Presse]; Glob­al Post; 9/2/2014.

In thick pine forests hid­den in the remote wilder­ness of east­ern Lithua­nia, young pro­fes­sion­als are ditch­ing their suits and ties for cam­ou­flage gear, and swap­ping iPads for rifles.

These week­end war­riors also proud­ly wear bracelets with emblems of green fir trees on their wrists, sym­bols of their small Baltic country’s wartime resis­tance against the Sovi­et Union, which occu­pied it in 1940.

Now, Russia’s takeover of Crimea and increas­ing signs of its involve­ment in Ukraine’s east, cou­pled with sabre rat­tling in its Kalin­ingrad exclave bor­der­ing Lithua­nia, are spark­ing a sharp rise in para­mil­i­tary recruits here.

Like oth­ers in the region, Lithua­nia is call­ing on NATO to put per­ma­nent boots on the ground in the Baltics to ward off any poten­tial threat from their Sovi­et-era mas­ter.

But while they await a deci­sion that could come at a key two-day alliance sum­mit start­ing Thurs­day in Wales, Lithuan­ian civil­ians are lac­ing up their own com­bat boots.

Stu­dents, busi­ness­men, civ­il ser­vants, jour­nal­ists and even politi­cians are among the hun­dreds who have joined the gov­ern­ment-spon­sored Lithua­nia Riflemen’s Union, a group first set up in 1919 but banned in 1940 under Sovi­et rule.

“The Vil­nius unit has tripled in size since the begin­ning of the cri­sis in Ukraine,” says Min­dau­gas Bal­ci­auskas, unit com­man­der of the group which boasts about 7,000 mem­bers in the nation of three mil­lion, a num­ber almost on par with its 7,000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel and 4,200 reservists.

- ‘Take up arms’ -

Pres­i­dent Dalia Gry­bauskaite, a karate black belt dubbed Lithuania’s ‘Iron Lady’ for her tough stance on Rus­sia, has also sworn to “take up arms” her­self in the unlike­ly case Moscow would attack this 2004 NATO and EU mem­ber of three mil­lion.

“Being in a para­mil­i­tary unit will give me priv­i­leged access to infor­ma­tion and make me bet­ter pre­pared than those who don’t join,” Arturas Bortke­vi­cius, a 37-year-old finance spe­cial­ist, told AFP, adding that he wants to learn the skills he needs to defend his coun­try and fam­i­ly.

Mem­bers spend week­ends on manoeu­vres deep in the woods or at a mil­i­tary train­ing range in Pabrade, north of the cap­i­tal Vil­nius.

Lib­eral MP Remigi­jus Sima­sius says that while his place “would be in par­lia­ment” giv­en a cri­sis, he joined the rifle­men in the wake of Russia’s Crimea land grab in the hope of encour­ag­ing oth­ers to fol­low suit.

Even some Lithua­ni­ans with Russ­ian roots have joined up amid the Ukraine cri­sis.

“I’m a Lithuan­ian cit­i­zen of Russ­ian ori­gin. I am who I am, and I am Lithuan­ian patri­ot,” pho­tog­ra­pher Vladimi­ras Ivanovas, 40, who also joined up, told AFP.

- Check­ered past -

The Rifleman’s Union “has left an indeli­ble mark on the his­tory of Lithua­nia,” says his­to­rian Arvy­das Anusauskas.

It was cre­ated after World War I in 1919 dur­ing a series of “Wars of Inde­pen­dence” fought by Lithua­ni­ans in 1918–1920 against Russ­ian Bol­she­viks, mixed Russ­ian and Ger­man forces and Poles.

Aside from Lithua­ni­ans, from 1919–1940 research shows its mem­bers also includ­ed Russ­ian, Poles, Jews and even Chi­nese, reflect­ing the eth­nic com­plex­ity of and ten­sions in the region.

Its rep­u­ta­tion is how­ever taint­ed by alle­ga­tions that cer­tain mem­bers were involved in a series of Nazi mas­sacres between 1940–44 that claimed the lives of an esti­mated 80,000–100,000 Jews, Poles and Rus­sians in Panierai, a sub­urb skirt­ing the cap­i­tal Vil­nius.

The Riflemen’s Union was banned in 1940 by the Sovi­et Union when the Red Army swept in from the east to occu­py Lithua­nia dur­ing World War II, but mem­bers fought a gueril­la war against the Sovi­ets until the ear­ly 1950s.

Its revival in 1989 came as the Sovi­et bloc began to crum­ble and now its large new crop of mem­bers say they are will­ing to fight again should their coun­try come under attack.

...

5. Next, the pro­gram excerpts AFA #36, detail­ing the pro­jec­tion of World War II-era fas­cist ele­ments into Lithua­nia by the mis-named Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy.

The re-emer­gence of Baltic Waf­fen SS units is to be seen against the back­ground of the Cru­sade For Free­dom, the same “op” that result­ed in the pro­jec­tion of the OUN/B fas­cists into Ukraine fol­low­ing the over­throw of Yanukovich.

An ille­gal domes­tic covert oper­a­tion, the CFF brought Nazi allies such as the OUN/B, the Croa­t­ian Ustachi, the Roman­ian Iron Guard, the Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross, the Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Front and oth­ers into the Unit­ed States in order to dri­ve the polit­i­cal spec­trum to the right.

As of 1952, the  CFF became inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the GOP, with Arthur Bliss Lane play­ing a key role in the GOP’s 1952 cam­paign, as well as being cen­tral­ly involved in the CFF. The CFF spawned the GOP’s eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion, which was able to deliv­er the swing vote in five key states in Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion years. It even­tu­al­ly became a per­ma­nent part of the GOP.

Con­ceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was over­seen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesper­son was Ronald Rea­gan. The State Depart­ment offi­cial respon­si­ble for bring­ing “fas­cist free­dom fight­ers” like the OUN/B into the Unit­ed States was William Casey (Ronald Rea­gan’s cam­paign man­ag­er in the 1980 Pres­i­den­tial race and lat­er Rea­gan’s CIA direc­tor.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a per­ma­nent branch of the Repub­li­can Part when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

The OUN/B was a key ele­ment of the GOP’s eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion. It is note­wor­thy that the orga­ni­za­tions that were rep­re­sent­ed in the GOP sub­group were all affil­i­at­ed with the SS dur­ing World War II. They were also inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Rein­hard Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion.

Per­haps the most impor­tant effect of the Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion was to intro­duce “roll­back” or “lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry” into Amer­i­can strate­gic think­ing. Roll­back was a polit­i­cal wafare and covert oper­a­tion strat­e­gy which had its gen­e­sis in the Third Reich Ost­min­is­teri­um head­ed by Alfred Rosen­berg. This strat­e­gy entailed enlist­ing the aid of dis­si­dent Sovi­et eth­nic minori­ties to over­throw the Sovi­et Union. In return, these minori­ties and their respec­tive republics were to be grant­ed nom­i­nal inde­pen­dence while serv­ing as satel­lite states of “Greater Ger­many.”

In its Amer­i­can incar­na­tion, lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry called for “rolling back” com­mu­nism out of East­ern Europe and the break-up of the Sovi­et Union into its con­stituent eth­nic Republics. Lip-ser­vice was giv­en to ini­ti­at­ing democ­ra­cy in the “lib­er­at­ed” coun­tries. Lib­er­a­tion the­o­ry was pro­ject­ed into main­stream Amer­i­can polit­i­cal con­scious­ness through the Cru­sade for Free­dom.

“NED Med­dles in Lithua­nia: Nur­tur­ing Baltic Reac­tion” by Philip Bonosky; Covert Action Quar­ter­ly; Num­ber 25 (Fall 1990).

In April of 1990, the Sovi­et Repub­lic of Lithua­nia star­tled the world by declar­ing itself inde­pen­dent of the U.S.S.R. The U.S. has not yet rec­og­nized Lithua­nia as inde­pen­dent, and Bush’s pub­lic remarks have been mod­er­ate. But beneath this facade of calm state­craft there runs a famil­iar cur­rent of silent U.S. involve­ment in the polit­i­cal affairs of anoth­er coun­try.

The most vis­i­ble inter­ven­tion has been via the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy (NED), which has sup­plied funds, equip­ment, and advice to the prin­ci­pal nation­al­ist oppo­si­tion par­ty Sajud­is. NED has cho­sen to fun­nel its Lithuan­ian aid through one orga­ni­za­tion: the New York-based Lithuan­ian Catholic Reli­gious Aid (LCRA) and its pro­pa­gan­da arm, Lithuan­ian Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter (LIC).

These two orga­ni­za­tions are run by arch-con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic cler­gy. The founder, cur­rent board chair, and the man who has “presided over the steady growth and increas­ing effec­tive­ness of LCRA, Bish­op Vin­cen­tas Briz­gys, was alleged­ly a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor dur­ing World War II. [Raul Hilberg’s The Destruc­tion of the Euro­pean Jews (New York: 1961), and Charles R. Allen’s Nazi War Crim­i­nals Among Us (New York: Jew­ish Cur­rents Reprint, 1963), doc­u­ment Briz­gys’s back­ground. Allen repro­duced Nurem­berg Tri­bunal doc­u­ments relat­ing to the Bish­op.] Briz­gys vehe­ment­ly denies the charge. Sajud­is itself is linked in a vari­ety of ways to the sym­bols and sen­ti­ments of the fas­cist and Nazi peri­ods of Baltic his­to­ry.

The Coun­try in Ques­tion

Lithua­nia lies on the east­ern shore of the Baltic Sea, bor­dered on the south by Poland, on the north by the Lat­vian S.S.R., and on the east by the Byeloruss­ian S.S.R. [Sovi­et Social­ist Republic–a mem­ber of the for­mer U.S.S.R.] It is the west­ern­most extent of the Sovi­et Union, with a pop­u­la­tion (1980) of just over three mil­lion. In the 14th cen­tu­ry invad­ing Ger­mans con­quered the area and imposed the Catholic faith. In the mod­ern era, Lithua­nia has been repeat­ed­ly buf­fet­ed by the shift­ing polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary map of Europe.

Lithua­nia declared inde­pen­dence from Czarist Rus­sia in 1918, but in 1926, the nation­al­ist par­ty took pow­er through a mil­i­tary coup. Declar­ing him­self pres­i­dent Augus­tus Volde­mares and his pre­mier, Antanas Sme­t­ona shaped Lithua­nia into Europe’s sec­ond fas­cist state, based explic­it­ly on the exam­ple of Mus­solin­i’s Italy. Lithua­nia remained a dic­ta­tor­ship until 1939, when Sme­toma fled to the U.S. and a new par­lia­ment vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to become a con­stituent repub­lic of the U.S.S.R. With the Ger­man inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union 1n 1941, Lithua­ni­a’s nation­al­ists returned briefly to pow­er and assist­ed the Nazis in the swift, sys­tem­at­ic slaugh­ter of more than 130,000 Lithuan­ian Jews, com­mu­nists and oth­er “unde­sir­ables.”

Enter NED

In April 1990, a 34-year-old Amer­i­can, William J.H. Hough III, was very  busy in Lithua­nia. Hough was sent to Lithuania–although he does­n’t speak Lithuanian–as legal advis­er to Vytau­tas Lands­ber­gis, the leader of the nation­al­ist par­ty. He was rec­om­mend­ed by LCRA/LIC, which the U.S. press has cit­ed as very enthu­si­as­tic about his work.

Coop­er­at­ing close­ly with Hough, LCRA/LIC has sup­plied Sajud­is with paper, pho­to­copy machines, com­put­ers, laser print­ers, FAX machines, and video cam­eras. With addi­tion­al polit­i­cal and tech­ni­cal exper­tise, Vil­nius quick­ly became a com­mu­ni­ca­tions hub for seces­sion­ist forces in Lithua­nia and oth­er Sovi­et republics.

Professionally,Hough is a lawyer. He was also an edi­tor of The New York Law School Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al and Com­par­a­tive Law, which pub­lished in its Win­ter 1985 issue his book-length arti­cle titled, “The Annex­a­tion of the Baltic States and its Effect on the Devel­op­ment of Law Pro­hibit­ing Forcible Seizure of Ter­ri­to­ry.” Hough describes the inter­war peri­od of Lithuan­ian his­to­ry [its fas­cist period–D.E.] as one of “polit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty” and “progress toward the restora­tion of full democ­ra­cy.” He fails to men­tion the col­lab­o­ra­tion of nation­al­ists and Nazis. In his pub­lic jus­ti­fi­ca­tions of seces­sion, Lands­ber­gis has fre­quent­ly referred to Hough’s inter­pre­ta­tion of Lithuan­ian his­to­ry.

Hough’s his­to­ry of Lithua­nia must be reas­sur­ing to NED’s ide­o­logues and their Lithuan­ian clients, some of whom share a past they might rea­son­ably pre­fer to for­get.

Chan­nel­ing Endow­ment Dol­lars

Dur­ing the past two years, NED has grant­ed $70,000 to LCRA/LIC. They are not obvi­ous­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic orga­ni­za­tions. Found­ed in 1961 to “pro­vide the Church under the Sovi­et oppres­sion with spir­i­tu­al and mate­r­i­al assis­tance . . . .,” LCA’s par­ent orga­ni­za­tion was the Lithuan­ian Roman Catholic Priests’ League. The qui­et obscu­ri­ty of this group belies the wel­come they receive in the halls of pow­er. LCRA exec­u­tive direc­tor Father Casimir Pugevi­cius served on an advi­so­ry com­mit­tee to Sen­a­tor Charles Per­cy (Rep.–Ill.), then a mem­ber of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee. He was also wel­comed in the Rea­gan White House in 1986.

Accord­ing to LCRA/LIC, its 1990 grant appli­ca­tion to NED request­ed $618,300 and out­lined its ambi­tious pro­pos­al as fol­lows:

. . . . five sep­a­rate pro-demo­c­ra­t­ic orga­ni­za­tions would receive tech­ni­cal and mate­r­i­al aid. The first, a coali­tion of demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties enjoy­ing broad sup­port in Lithua­nia and capa­ble of assum­ing lead­ing roles in the new leg­is­la­ture would receive com­put­er and audio-visu­al equip­ment . . . . Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and video equip­ment will also be trans­port­ed to the Sajud­is Infor­ma­tion Agency . . . . [Accord­ing to NED, funds went only to  Sajud­is.]

The sec­ond part of the project would ensure a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply of much need­ed paper for inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ers and orga­ni­za­tions. The dra­mat­ic increase in the num­ber of demo­c­ra­t­ic groups in Lithua­nia in the past year has caused severe short­ages in the very lim­it­ed pool of resources. . . . Because of the greater degree of lib­er­al­iza­tion in Lithua­nia, this repub­lic has emerged as the pub­lish­ing cen­ter for the inde­pen­dent groups through­out the Sovi­et Union. . . .

With­in weeks of the arrival of these goods, tra­di­tion­al sources of infor­ma­tion in Lithua­nia were sup­pressed or tak­en over by Sajud­is. Nation­al­ist sym­pa­thiz­ers cut off broad­cast pro­gram­ming  from Moscow, and Lithua­nia was soon flood­ed with seces­sion­ist pro­pa­gan­da. In the ensu­ing elec­tion, Sajud­is man­aged to dom­i­nate the scene by rid­ing the crest of a wave of nation­al­ist sen­ti­ment. It won a major­i­ty in the Seim (par­lia­ment). In March, a hasti­ly con­vened ses­sion of par­lia­ment vot­ed for seces­sion (91–38) in a mat­ter of hours. Laws were passed curb­ing oppo­si­tion news­pa­pers and chang­ing the flag and nation­al anthem, revert­ing to ver­sions in use dur­ing the nation­al­ist peri­od. As to whether, or what, of real sub­stance should change, Sajud­is remained silent.

Echoes From the Past

To Lithua­ni­ans old enough to remem­ber the Sec­ond World War, the ener­getic activ­i­ties of Sajud­is, LCRA, and LIC must seem vague­ly famil­iar. Lands­ber­gis’s father was a mem­ber of the Savan­do­ri­ai (nation­al­ist mili­tia), who fought the Rus­sians (1918–1919), helped enforce the suc­ces­sive dic­ta­tor­ships of Volde­mares and Sme­t­ona, and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Ger­man occu­pa­tion.

A reporter for Der Spiegel wrote in April 1990 that: “Every­body fears Sajud­is. Any­one who attacks Sajud­is is declared an an ene­my of the peo­ple by Lands­ber­gis, and that hap­pens very quick­ly.”  In addi­tion the Savan­do­ri­ai (ille­gal under Sovi­et law) have been revived under the lead­er­ship of retired army offi­cers.

Pri­or to the Ger­man inva­sion in June 1941, a Berlin-based “Lithuan­ian Infor­ma­tion Bureau,” the pro­pa­gan­da arm of the Lithuan­ian Activist Front, a nation­al­ist exile orga­ni­za­tion, sent the fol­low­ing mes­sage into Lithua­nia:

. . . . lib­er­a­tion is close at hand. . . . upris­ings must be start­ed in the cities, towns and vil­lages of Lithua­nia. . . . com­mu­nists and oth­er trai­tors. . . . must be arrest­ed at once. . . . (The trai­tor will be par­doned only pro­vid­ed beyond doubt that he has killed one Jew at least.)

In the book Blow­back, Christo­pher Simp­son crisply sum­ma­rizes part of the “lib­er­a­tion” that fol­lowed:

. . . . munic­i­pal killing squads employ­ing Lithuan­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors elim­i­nat­ed 46,692 Jews in few­er than three months, accord­ing to their own reports, main­ly by com­bin­ing clock-like liq­ui­da­tions of 500 Jews per day in the cap­i­tal city of Vil­nius with mobile “clean-up” sweeps through the sur­round­ing coun­try­side.

Such squads were con­sis­tent­ly used by the Nazis for the dirty work that even the SS believed  to be beneath the dig­ni­ty of the Ger­man sol­dier. . . . .

 On August 4, 1941, the Lithuan­ian Activist Front, installed a pro­vi­sion­al gov­ern­ment, tak­ing care to coop­er­ate ful­ly with the Nazis. The invaders let pres­i­dent Juozas Ambraze­vi­cius’s gov­ern­ment stand for three months, dur­ing which time the worst of the killings occurred. After the war, Ambraze­vi­cius fled to the U.S., where he changed his name to Brazaitis.

The crimes which prompt­ed the post-war flight of many Lithuan­ian nation­al­ists were stark­ly doc­u­ment­ed in the “Jaeger Report,” an offi­cial count by the SS offi­cer who super­vised the mas­sacres:

Ein­satzkom­man­do 3 Kovno, Decem­ber 1, 1941

Secret State Doc­u­ment

Sum­ma­ry of all exe­cu­tions car­ried out in the sphere of action of Ein­satzkom­man­do 3 up to Decem­ber 1, 1941.

Ein­satzko­man­do 3 took over its duties as secu­ri­ty police in Lithua­nia on the 2nd of July 1941. . . . In com­pli­ance with my direc­tives and on my order the Lithuan­ian par­ti­sans have car­ried out the fol­low­ing exe­cu­tions. . . .

What fol­lowed was a chrono­log­i­cal account­ing of the activ­i­ties of the killing squads. Vic­tims were neat­ly cat­e­go­rized: Jew­ish men, Jew­ish women, Jew­ish chil­dren, Poles, Lithuan­ian com­mu­nists, Russ­ian com­mu­nists, Intel­lec­tu­al Jews, Lunatics, Gyp­sies, Polit­i­cal Instruc­tors, Arme­ni­ans. . . .

After the first 3,000 deaths, Jaeger appar­ent­ly decid­ed that the Lithuan­ian nation­al­ists alone were equal to the task;

. . . . After orga­niz­ing a mobile unit under SS-Ober­s­tum­fuhrer Hamann and 8 to 10 tried men of EK 3 the fol­low­ing actions were car­ried out in coop­er­a­tion with the Lithuan­ian par­ti­sans. . . .

. . . . Before the EK 3 assumed secu­ri­ty duties, the par­ti­sans them­selves killed [4,000 ] Jews through pogroms and exe­cu­tions. . . .

. . . . I can state today that the goal of solv­ing the Jew­ish prob­lem in Lithua­nia has been reached by EK 3. There are no Jews in Lithua­nia any­more except the work Jews and their fam­i­lies. . . .The goal to clear Lithua­nia of Jews could be achieved only thanks to . . . men . . . . who adopt­ed my goal with­out any reser­va­tions and man­aged to secure the coop­er­a­tion of the Lithuan­ian par­ti­sans and and the respec­tive civ­il offices. . . .

The final tal­ly of those killed was 137, 346. As the report clear­ly indi­cates, the Nazis were assist­ed by both the para­mil­i­tary bands asso­ci­at­ed with the nation­al­ists, and by those in posi­tions of authority–including mem­bers of the Catholic cler­gy.

A Nazi Col­lab­o­ra­tor Pros­pers in Chica­go

As aux­il­iary Bish­op of Kau­nas, (Kovno) dur­ing the Ger­man occu­pa­tion, Bish­op Vin­cen­tas Briz­gys, founder of LCRA/LIC, lent his spir­i­tu­al author­i­ty to fas­cism. When the Nazis retreat­ed, so did he, first to Ger­many, then to Chica­go where he has lived, worked, and car­ried the nation­al­ist ban­ner for 25 years.

The cler­gy hat­ed social­ism or very clear rea­sons. The social­ist gov­ern­ment which came to pow­er in 1939 had sep­a­rat­ed church and state. Church prop­er­ty was con­fis­cat­ed, includ­ing large farms where peas­ants labored under semi-feu­dal con­di­tions elim­i­nat­ed else­where in Europe cen­turies before. Cler­gy were removed from gov­ern­ment and the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem, two insti­tu­tions where they had long wield­ed pow­er­ful influ­ence.

Arch­bish­op Skvireckas, Briz­gys’s supe­ri­or, doc­u­ment­ed the bish­op’s col­lab­o­ra­tionist activ­i­ties with evi­dent sat­is­fac­tion. The arch­bish­op’s diary for July 1, 1941, reveals that Briz­gys made con­tact:

. . . . with the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment for the Baltic sta­t­ics. [Dr. Groffe, for­mer­ly head of Gestapo in East Prus­sia who] . . . pro­posed . . . . that he [Briz­gys] should make an appeal to the peo­ple to behave qui­et­ly and pur­sue their dai­ly busi­ness with con­fi­dence, with­out any fear that they might be harmed. . . .

On June 30, 1941, the arch­bish­op had writ­ten: “The ideas in Mein Kampf on the ques­tion of the Bol­she­vik-Jew­ish con­ta­gion are splen­did . . . . they prove that Hitler is not only an ene­my of the Jews, but gen­er­al­ly speak­ing has the right ideas.”

An appeal to wel­come the Nazis was broad­cast by radio, ten pub­lished in a major Kau­nas news­pa­per, signed by Skviteckas, Briz­gys and Vic­ar Gen­er­al Saulys. Their sig­na­tures were also on a for­mal telegram of thanks to Hitler for “Lithua­ni­a’s Lib­er­a­tion,” sent in the mid­dle of July 1941.

As the Nazis and their col­lab­o­ra­tors imple­ment­ed the dia­bol­i­cal log­ic of Mein Kampf, Briz­gys “set an exam­ple for the entire pop­u­la­tion by for­bid­ding the cler­gy to aid the Jews in any way.” He also urged from his pul­pit, and via radio and news­pa­per, that Lithua­ni­ans coop­er­ate with the Nazis.

When the Sovi­et army, led by its 16th Lithuan­ian divi­sion, drove the Nazis out in 1944, Briz­gys fled to safe­ty in Ger­many, then to the U.S. Send to the arch­dio­cese of Chica­go, he helped launch Lithuan­ian Catholic Reli­gious Aid in 1961, and served as LCRA pres­i­dent until 1986. He is now chair of the board of direc­tors.

Oth­er Friends of Lithuan­ian Democ­ra­cy

  • Direc­tor of Spe­cial Projects for LCRA/LIC is Rasa Raz­gaitis, step­daugh­ter of accused war crim­i­nal Jur­gis Juodis. Because of his involve­ment as a nation­al­ist mil­i­tary offi­cer in the mas­sacres of 1941, Juodis became the sub­ject of a Jus­tice Depart­ment Office of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions (OSIS) inquiry in 1981. In addi­tion to her work with LCA, Raz­gaitis is head of “Amer­i­cans for Due Process,” an orga­ni­za­tion “formed sole­ly to chal­lenge the activ­i­ties of the Jus­tice Depart­men­t’s war crimes unit.” She is also a friend of Patrick Buchanan, through whom she gained access to the Rea­gan White House when Buchanan was Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor.
  • AFL-CIO pres­i­dent Lane Kirk­land is a long time mem­ber of the cold war­rior clique Com­mit­tee on the Present Dan­ger, and sup­ports CIA manip­u­la­tion of labor move­ments around the globe. Kirk­land has wel­comed Lands­ber­gis as a friend dur­ing his U.S. vis­its. Kirk­land’s name was on an open let­ter to Pres­i­dent Bush pub­lished in the April 22, 1990 New York Times call­ing for imme­di­ate recog­ni­tion of Lithuan­ian inde­pen­dence. Kirk­land is on the NED board.
  • Richard Ebel­ing, vice pres­i­dent of the Future Free­dom Foun­da­tion (FFF) of Den­ver, has been invit­ed by Sajud­is to lec­ture “in Lithua­nia, on the prin­ci­ples of free­dom.” In addi­tion, six Sajud­is econ­o­mists have met with lead­ers of FFF to dis­cuss “free mar­ket pro­pos­als . . . .  made as rad­i­cal as pos­si­ble.” Among oth­ers dis­cussed were the now-famil­iar calls for rapid dena­tion­al­iza­tion of all indus­tries and state pros­per­i­ty; decon­trol of all prices and wages, both in the con­sumer and pro­duc­tion mar­kets; and pri­va­ti­za­tion of social ser­vices includ­ing med­ical retire­ment pen­sions. . . . . .

 

Discussion

7 comments for “FTR #848 Walkin’ the Snake in the Baltic States”

  1. The EU is start­ing a new Russ­ian-speak­ing counter-pro­pa­gan­da unit. There’s only up to 10 peo­ple involved accord­ing the plans. But don’t expect it to stay that size: “Offi­cials say it is a first step in the EEAS’s response to grow­ing con­cern in east­ern Europe and EU Baltic states about the desta­bi­liz­ing influ­ence of Russ­ian-lan­guage news reports”:

    Politico.eu
    EU declares infor­ma­tion war on Rus­sia

    Task force will start try­ing to win hearts and minds in east­ern part­ner­ship coun­tries next month.

    By James Panichi

    8/27/15, 5:28 PM CET

    Updat­ed 8/28/15, 12:50 PM CET

    The Euro­pean Union’s for­eign affairs depart­ment said Thurs­day it was launch­ing a rapid-response team to counter what it con­sid­ers biased Russ­ian media reports.

    The unit, which will include up to 10 Russ­ian-speak­ing offi­cials and media pro­fes­sion­als from EU mem­ber states, will be ful­ly oper­a­tional by the end of Sep­tem­ber and will be part of the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice (EEAS). Offi­cials say it is a first step in the EEAS’s response to grow­ing con­cern in east­ern Europe and EU Baltic states about the desta­bi­liz­ing influ­ence of Russ­ian-lan­guage news reports.

    The EEAS was tasked by the Euro­pean Coun­cil in March with com­ing up with a response to what EU lead­ers described as “Russia’s ongo­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign,” with a spe­cif­ic request that the EEAS estab­lish a “com­mu­ni­ca­tion team” as a “first step” in fight­ing back.

    The team, which will be based in the EEAS’s Brus­sels head­quar­ters, falls short of requests from Latvia that the EU estab­lish a full-blown, EU-fund­ed Russ­ian-lan­guage tele­vi­sion chan­nel, to pro­vide an alter­na­tive source of news to Russ­ian-speak­ers in both EU and “east­ern part­ner­ship” coun­tries (Arme­nia, Azer­bai­jan, Geor­gia, Moldo­va, Ukraine and Belarus).

    Offi­cials Thurs­day stressed the lim­it­ed scope of the team and were adamant its role would be to improve EU com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Russ­ian-speak­ing com­mu­ni­ties and not to be pro­duc­ing Brus­sels-fund­ed pro­pa­gan­da.

    ...

    The unit, which includes Russ­ian-lan­guage experts from the U.K., Latvia and Swe­den, will be attached to the EEAS’s exist­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions team. The EU mem­ber states will pay the salaries of the per­son­nel, but the unit has not been allo­cat­ed a bud­get.

    “The team will car­ry out media mon­i­tor­ing and will work on the devel­op­ment of com­mu­ni­ca­tion prod­ucts and media cam­paigns focused on explain­ing EU poli­cies in the region,” the offi­cial said.

    How­ev­er, the EEAS said it has nei­ther the resources nor the man­date to go beyond the capa­bil­i­ties of the new unit and the fund­ing of TV chan­nels in Russ­ian was not on the cards.

    “This is not about engag­ing in counter-pro­pa­gan­da,” the EU offi­cial said. “How­ev­er, where nec­es­sary the EU will respond to dis­in­for­ma­tion that direct­ly tar­gets the EU and will work … to raise aware­ness of these activ­i­ties.”

    The unit’s dai­ly rou­tine will con­sist of mon­i­tor­ing Russ­ian media and sug­gest­ing ways for EU insti­tu­tions to tai­lor their media strat­e­gy to counter Russ­ian broad­casts, in a bid to win the hearts and minds of east­ern part­ner­ship audi­ences.

    In June, a study fund­ed by the Dutch gov­ern­ment rec­om­mend­ed the cre­ation of a Russ­ian-lan­guage “con­tent fac­to­ry” that would pro­duce enter­tain­ment and doc­u­men­tary pro­grams, along­side news and cur­rent affairs broad­cast from a “news hub.”

    An EU offi­cial said the depart­ment had not been approached by Euronews, a mul­ti­lin­gual broad­cast­er which last year received €25.5 mil­lion from the EU, to expand its Russ­ian- and Ukrain­ian-lan­guage pro­gram­ming as part of the EU’s response.

    “In June, a study fund­ed by the Dutch gov­ern­ment rec­om­mend­ed the cre­ation of a Russ­ian-lan­guage “con­tent fac­to­ry” that would pro­duce enter­tain­ment and doc­u­men­tary pro­grams, along­side news and cur­rent affairs broad­cast from a “news hub.””
    So in addi­tion to EEAS’s new Russ­ian lan­guage “anti-dis­in­for­ma­tion” out­fit, start­ed, in part, at the request of Latvia, the EU might cre­ate a “con­tent fac­to­ry” that pro­duces Russ­ian-lan­guage enter­tain­ment and doc­u­men­taries? Look out His­to­ry Chan­nel! You have have com­pe­ti­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2015, 2:32 pm
  2. The Baltic states joint­ly came out against join­ing France’s pro­posed anti-ISIS coali­tion...unless the coali­tion excludes Rus­sia:

    AFP
    Baltic lead­ers against anti-IS coali­tion with Rus­sia.

    Fri 20 Nov, 2015

    The three Baltic states on Fri­day said they would not join any West­ern coali­tion fight­ing the Islam­ic State jihadist group if it includ­ed their Sovi­et-era mas­ter Rus­sia because of its role in the Ukraine con­flict.

    French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande had called this week for a broad anti-IS coali­tion in the after­math of the Paris ter­ror attacks, which killed 129 peo­ple and were claimed by IS.

    On Thurs­day, Rus­sia said it would be ready to work with such a coali­tion — on the con­di­tion that its mem­bers respect Syr­i­a’s sov­er­eign­ty — a prospect that does not please the pres­i­dents of Baltic EU mem­bers Esto­nia, Latvia and Lithua­nia.

    Lithua­nia will not take part in any new coali­tion in which Rus­sia will par­tic­i­pate or would like to par­tic­i­pate. To this day Rus­sia is occu­py­ing the ter­ri­to­ry of one coun­try and com­mit­ting acts of war in two coun­tries, Ukraine and Geor­gia,” Pres­i­dent Dalia Gry­bauskaite said in the west­ern resort town of Palan­ga after meet­ing with her Baltic coun­ter­parts.

    Ten­sions between the small NATO mem­bers and neigh­bour­ing Rus­sia have surged since Moscow’s annex­a­tion of Crimea from Ukraine last year and the ongo­ing con­flict in east­ern Ukraine between pro-Rus­sia rebels and the gov­ern­ment.

    ...

    “We have to think seri­ous­ly about any coali­tion that would involve an aggres­sor like our neigh­bour,” Eston­ian Pres­i­dent Toomas Hen­drik Ilves told reporters.

    Lat­vian Pres­i­dent Rai­monds Vejo­nis the sit­u­a­tion in the EU and around it south­ern bor­ders “should not take our atten­tion from Ukraine.

    “It is our com­mon task to keep the issue of Ukraine high on EU agen­da until the full res­o­lu­tion of the Min­sk agree­ment,” refer­ring to the cease­fire agree­ment signed in Feb­ru­ary.

    The Lat­vian for­eign min­istry added in a state­ment that “the fight against ter­ror­ists and resolv­ing the con­flict in Syr­ia should not be at the expense of Ukraine”.

    Though they recog­nise that many of the refugees arriv­ing in Europe are flee­ing con­flicts, the Baltic pres­i­dents also stand unit­ed against wel­com­ing any more migrants before the EU takes action to bet­ter secure its exter­nal bor­ders.

    “To talk about some­thing more is too ear­ly before what was agreed is ful­filled,” said Gry­bauskaite refer­ring to the bor­der plans.

    “Lithua­nia will not take part in any new coali­tion in which Rus­sia will par­tic­i­pate or would like to par­tic­i­pate.”
    So all Rus­sia needs to do is express a desire to join a coali­tion and that would com­pel Lithua­ni­a’s gov­er­nor to reject its own par­tic­i­pa­tion? Wow, that’s quite a bit of pow­er over Lithua­ni­a’s inter­nal deci­sion-mak­ing that its gov­ern­ment just hand­ed over to Moscow. It’ll be inter­est­ing to see what kind of rhetor­i­cal fun the Krem­lin might have with this lit­tle rev­e­la­tion.

    Still, as far as NATO sol­i­dar­i­ty in the face if the ISIS cri­sis goes it could be worse!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 21, 2015, 1:25 pm
  3. Poland’s nation­al­ist Law and Jus­tice gov­ern­ment is mov­ing to strip Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Jan Tamasz Gross of the Order of Mer­it of the Repub­lic he was award­ed back in 1996. What did Mr. Gross do to war­rant the strip­ping of his award? He sug­gest­ed that more jews prob­a­bly died in Poland than Ger­many dur­ing WWII. And accord­ing to Poland’s nation­al­ist gov­ern­ment, under Poland’s anti-defama­tion laws, what Gross said is appar­ent­ly a pun­ish­able crime:

    The Guardian
    Pol­ish move to strip Holo­caust expert of award sparks protests
    Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Jan Tomasz Gross faces los­ing Order of Mer­it over com­ments Pol­ish vil­lagers were com­plic­it in mas­sacre of Jews

    Alex Duval Smith in War­saw

    Sat­ur­day 13 Feb­ru­ary 2016 19.05 EST

    Aca­d­e­mics have ral­lied to the defence of one of the world’s lead­ing Holo­caust his­to­ri­ans after reports that Poland intends to strip him of a nation­al hon­our because he claimed that Poles were com­plic­it in Nazi war crimes.

    Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Jan Tomasz Gross, 69, was award­ed the Order of Mer­it of the Repub­lic of Poland in 1996. He is best known for his 2001 book Neigh­bors, which describes in graph­ic detail the 1941 mas­sacre by Pol­ish vil­lagers of up to 1,600 Jew­ish men, women and chil­dren. The book inspired After­math (Pok­losie), a 2012 film direct­ed by Wla­dys­law Pasikows­ki.

    The move against the his­to­ri­an comes as the nation­al­ist Law and Jus­tice gov­ern­ment, elect­ed in 2015, comes under Euro­pean scruti­ny for law changes that, crit­ics say, threat­en democ­ra­cy. Pres­i­dent Andrzej Duda signed into law a con­tro­ver­sial move bring­ing the attor­ney gen­er­al under the con­trol of the jus­tice min­istry. Crit­ics say this will put polit­i­cal pres­sure on the judi­cia­ry.

    Intel­lec­tu­als who in the past few days have signed two open let­ters in Gross’s defence say the Law and Jus­tice gov­ern­ment wants to rewrite his­to­ry, expung­ing any sug­ges­tion of Pol­ish com­plic­i­ty in past hor­rors.

    “The gov­ern­ment says Gross is unpa­tri­ot­ic. But he is a patri­ot who looks at both the dark­er and lighter peri­ods in Pol­ish his­to­ry,’’ said Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Jan Grabows­ki, who is among 30 sig­na­to­ries of the first let­ter, pub­lished last week.

    Gross was born in Poland but left the coun­try in 1969 after an anti­se­mit­ic purge on dis­si­dents. Last Sep­tem­ber, in an arti­cle pub­lished in Germany’s Die Welt news­pa­per, he lament­ed east­ern Euro­pean coun­tries’ reluc­tance to accept refugees and assert­ed that Poles killed more Jews than they did Nazis dur­ing the sec­ond world war. Pros­e­cu­tors in War­saw decid­ed to inves­ti­gate whether Gross had bro­ken laws pro­hibit­ing the defama­tion of Poland.

    “Gross is con­tro­ver­sial, but it is stu­pid and harm­ful to con­sid­er remov­ing his award,’’ said Dar­iusz Sto­la, direc­tor of Warsaw’s Polin Muse­um of the His­to­ry of Pol­ish Jews, who signed the sec­ond open let­ter, sub­mit­ted to the Pol­ish Press Agency on Fri­day.

    Sto­la said Duda should bear in mind the broad con­text of Gross’s work, which includ­ed valu­able stud­ies of the Ger­man and Russ­ian occu­pa­tions of Poland. “He was award­ed the Order of Mer­it for his schol­ar­ly work but also for his con­tri­bu­tion, while in exile, to the demo­c­ra­t­ic tran­si­tion,’’ said Sto­la. “These are achieve­ments you can­not take away.”

    Gross is cur­rent­ly on sab­bat­i­cal leave from Prince­ton and did not respond to a request for com­ment from the Observ­er. But at a recent talk, post­ed online by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Haifa last week, he described his work as “a con­fronta­tion with ghosts in the con­scious­ness of Pol­ish soci­ety’’. He said most Poles were still not aware that 3.5 mil­lion Jews had died in Nazi death camps. The Law and Jus­tice gov­ern­ment was, he said, “vest­ed in mar­ty­rol­o­gy’’.

    He said to the stu­dents: “His­to­ri­ans write about what hap­pened. What the con­se­quences are is not your respon­si­bil­i­ty or busi­ness. Speak­ing and know­ing the truth is a nec­es­sary step towards clar­i­fy­ing and set­ting rela­tion­ships between groups on a path of mutu­al under­stand­ing.’’

    Aga­ta Bielik-Rob­son, pro­fes­sor of Jew­ish Stud­ies at Not­ting­ham Uni­ver­si­ty, said: “Gross is one of the world’s lead­ing Holo­caust his­to­ri­ans. Any nor­mal lib­er­al democ­ra­cy has to have a voice of inner crit­i­cism, speak­ing in the name of minori­ties and dif­fer­ent inter­ests. Gross is one of those voic­es for Poland.’’

    Bielik-Rob­son, who is Pol­ish and also signed the open let­ters, added: “Law and Jus­tice want to elim­i­nate voic­es like his, to pro­duce a uni­form his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. The trend is deeply wor­ry­ing.’’

    ...

    “Law and Jus­tice want to elim­i­nate voic­es like his, to pro­duce a uni­form his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. The trend is deeply wor­ry­ing.”
    That’s a good way to put it, although, tech­ni­cal­ly, efforts of this nature are intend­ed to pro­duce a uni­form ahis­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. It’s also worth not­ing that two of Gross’s books on this top­ic, “Gold­en Har­vest” and “Fear”, were already inves­ti­gat­ed in 2008 and 2011 but pros­e­cu­tors found no evi­dence of a crime. So if Gross is con­vict­ed this time, it’s a sign that Poland’s nation­al­ists are get­ting even more ahis­tor­i­cal, which, as his­to­ry teach­es us, is nev­er a good sign.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 15, 2016, 7:00 pm
  4. Back in Decem­ber, Hun­gary remind­ed us that as east­ern Europe con­tin­ues its reha­bil­i­ta­tion of WWII-era archi­tects of holo­caust, that prob­a­bly means there’s going to be a lot of new taste­less stat­ues pop­ping up

    AFP
    Hun­gary ‘anti-Semit­ic’ stat­ue plan sparks protests

    Decem­ber 13, 2015 4:44 PM

    Székesfe­hérvár (Hun­gary) (AFP) — Sev­er­al hun­dred peo­ple includ­ing a US envoy joined a protest Sun­day organ­ised by Jew­ish groups in Hun­gary against a planned stat­ue of a World War II-era politi­cian who had held anti-Semit­ic views.

    Around 300 pro­test­ers gath­ered near the build­ing site of the mon­u­ment, a life-size bronze stat­ue of Balint Homan, in the city of Szekesfe­hervar.

    Homan was an aca­d­e­m­ic, promi­nent his­to­ri­an and civic leader wide­ly seen as an archi­tect of anti-Jew­ish laws in the 1930s. He also called for the depor­ta­tion of Jews from Hun­gary in 1944, while part of a fas­cist Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment installed by Nazi Ger­many.

    Around 600,000 Hun­gar­i­an Jews per­ished in the Holo­caust, almost all at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in 1944.

    “An open­ly anti-Semit­ic, fas­cist politi­cian should nev­er get a stat­ue any­where in this coun­try,” Andras Heisler, head of Hun­gary’s largest Jew­ish group, the Fed­er­a­tion of Jew­ish Hun­gar­i­an Com­mu­ni­ties (Mazsi­hisz), told the crowd at the protest..

    Also present were Israeli and Cana­di­an diplo­mats and Wash­ing­ton’s spe­cial envoy on anti-Semi­tism Ira For­man.

    “There is no excuse for this stat­ue, that’s some­thing we won’t let up on,” For­man told AFP.

    The pri­vate group behind the stat­ue, the Balint Homan Foun­da­tion, some of whose mem­bers are linked to the far-right Job­bik par­ty, has received both state and munic­i­pal fund­ing for the stat­ue in Szekesfe­hervar, about 60 kilo­me­tres (37 miles) south­west of Budapest.

    ...

    Protest let­ters against the statute have also been sent to Hun­gar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban by the World Jew­ish Con­gress and a US Con­gress task­force on anti-Semi­tism.

    After the war Homan was hand­ed a life sen­tence for his role in approv­ing Hun­gary join­ing Nazi Ger­many’s inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union; he died in prison in 1951.

    How­ev­er, a Budapest court in March found there had been a lack of evi­dence for his con­vic­tion, after which Szekesfe­hervar City Hall approved the stat­ue plan.

    On Fri­day, the city’s may­or, a mem­ber of Orban’s right-wing Fidesz par­ty, urged the foun­da­tion to “rethink” the plan, and said if it erects the stat­ue it should pay back the pub­lic fund­ing it received.

    Orban’s gov­ern­ment has some­times been accused of cosy­ing up to Job­bik and gloss­ing over Hun­gary’s role in the depor­ta­tion of Jews, despite say­ing it has “zero tol­er­ance” for anti-Semi­tism.

    Three gov­ern­ment min­is­ters have crit­i­cised the mon­u­ment plan, but stopped short of call­ing for it to be scrapped.

    “The pri­vate group behind the stat­ue, the Balint Homan Foun­da­tion, some of whose mem­bers are linked to the far-right Job­bik par­ty, has received both state and munic­i­pal fund­ing for the stat­ue in Szekesfe­hervar, about 60 kilo­me­tres (37 miles) south­west of Budapest.”
    Yeah, Job­bik-affil­i­at­ed indi­vid­u­als being behind this stat­ue is prob­a­bly what we should expect.

    To the cred­it of the rul­ing Fidesz par­ty, at least they also backed away from it fol­low­ing the inter­na­tion­al out­rage. Even Vik­tor Orban called for the stat­ue’s removal. Of course, since Vik­tor Orban was also a dri­ving force behind the cre­ation of the stat­ue, you can’t real­ly give too much cred­it to a par­ty that his­tor­i­cal­ly revis­es its his­tor­i­cal-revi­sion­ism. Espe­cial­ly after sim­i­lar protests just forced a senior Fidesz mem­ber to can­cel his speech at the unveil­ing of anoth­er stat­ue in trib­ute to an archi­tect of Hun­gary’s anti-Jew­ish laws that’s just 100 meters from Budapest’s Holo­caust muse­um:

    AFP

    Hun­gary pro­test­ers block stat­ue unveil­ing

    2/24/2016

    Budapest (AFP) — The unveil­ing of a stat­ue of a World War II-era Hun­gar­i­an politi­cian — seen as anti-Semit­ic by Hun­gary’s largest Jew­ish group — was can­celled Wednes­day after a protest.

    Sev­er­al dozen pro­tes­tors hold­ing plac­ards read­ing “Racism out” sur­round­ed the cov­ered stat­ue of Gyor­gy Donath, a mem­ber of Hun­gary’s wartime gov­ern­ment which was allied with Nazi Ger­many and brought in anti-Jew­ish laws.

    “I don’t see why this per­son should ever have a stat­ue in a pub­lic place in Hun­gary,” one pro­tes­tor Gabor Eross told AFP, lat­er climb­ing onto the stat­ue with a plac­ard.

    A senior mem­ber of Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban’s gov­ern­ing par­ty Fidesz due to deliv­er a speech at the unveil­ing announced at the scene, some 100 metres (yards) away from the city’s Holo­caust muse­um, that the cer­e­mo­ny had been can­celled.

    “The cir­cum­stances are not good,” Gerge­ly Gulyas, a vice-pres­i­dent of Fidesz, told AFP before leav­ing.

    As a gov­ern­ment mem­ber between 1939 and 1944, Donath sup­port­ed laws against Hun­gary’s Jew­ish and eth­nic-Ger­man minori­ties, although he was not part of the Hun­gar­i­an fas­cist regime installed by the Nazis in late-1944.

    He was exe­cut­ed for trea­son in 1947 at a show tri­al orches­trat­ed by the com­mu­nist regime which seized pow­er at that time.

    “One can­not turn a blind eye to Donath’s shame­ful polit­i­cal role...(even if he lat­er) became a vic­tim of com­mu­nism,” Hun­gary’s largest Jew­ish group Mazsi­hisz said in a state­ment Tues­day.

    ...

    Homan key was a key archi­tect of anti-Semit­ic laws in the run-up to the Holo­caust in 1930s Hun­gary.

    “A senior mem­ber of Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban’s gov­ern­ing par­ty Fidesz due to deliv­er a speech at the unveil­ing announced at the scene, some 100 metres (yards) away from the city’s Holo­caust muse­um, that the cer­e­mo­ny had been can­celled.”
    So his­tor­i­cal-revi­sion­ism is going pret­ty strong in Hun­gary. You have to won­der what type of state-backed revi­sion­ism might be next.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 24, 2016, 6:39 pm
  5. Bul­gar­i­an Pres­i­dent Rosen Plevneliev recent­ly made a trip to Ukraine where he received the annu­al “Per­son of the Year” award. And if the idea float­ed by Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko dur­ing the trip comes to fruition, Bul­gar­i­a’s lead­ers are prob­a­bly in store for some more Ukrain­ian “Per­son of the Year” awards in com­ing years, although they’ll have to share those awards with Roma­ni­a’s lead­ers since Poroshenko wants to set up a joint Ukrain­ian-Bul­gar­i­an-Roman­ian army brigade and Roma­nia wants a large NATO pres­ence oper­at­ing in the Black Sea:

    Novinite.com

    Bul­gar­ia, Roma­nia, Ukraine Dis­cuss Set­ting up Joint Army Brigade

    Pol­i­tics » DEFENSE | April 21, 2016, Thurs­day // 16:08

    Bul­gar­ia, Roma­nia and Ukraine are dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of set­ting up a joint mil­i­tary brigade.

    This became clear after a state­ment by Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko dur­ing his meet­ing with his Roman­ian coun­ter­part Klaus Iohan­nis in Bucharest on Thurs­day.

    Poroshenko revealed that the pos­si­bil­i­ty was also dis­cussed dur­ing the recent vis­it of Bul­gar­i­an Pres­i­dent Rosen Plevneliev in Ukraine where he was bestowed the “Per­son of the year” annu­al award in recog­ni­tion of his sup­port for the sov­er­eign­ty and integri­ty of Ukraine.

    The brigade is to be mod­eled on the exist­ing Lithuan­ian-Pol­ish-Ukrain­ian brigade (Lit­PolUkr­Brig), which has been in exis­tence since 2009 and com­pris­es units of the Lithuan­ian, Pol­ish and Ukrain­ian armies.

    ...

    Dur­ing his vis­it to Roma­nia on Thurs­day, the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent also expressed sup­port for the ini­tia­tive of Bucharest to cre­ate NATO flotil­la in the Black Sea.

    Poroshenko added that Ukraine has will­ing­ness to join in the ini­tia­tive as soon as it is approved by the Alliance, AGERPRES quotes him as say­ing.

    “Dur­ing his vis­it to Roma­nia on Thurs­day, the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent also expressed sup­port for the ini­tia­tive of Bucharest to cre­ate NATO flotil­la in the Black Sea.”
    A NATO build up in the Black Sea? It’s appar­ent­ly on the table. Although, based on recent com­ments from NATO’s Deputy Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow dur­ing his trip to Bul­gar­ia, it sounds like the plans for a NATO pres­ence are going to be lim­it­ed to those NATO mem­bers with Black Sea bor­ders, which would prob­a­bly lim­it the build up some­what. Still, accord­ing to Ver­sh­bow, NATO’s pres­ence in the Black Sea could be “enhanced” by July:

    Reuters

    NATO’s new deter­rent may include big­ger Black Sea pres­ence

    SOFIA | By Tsvetelia Tsolo­va
    Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:31am EDT

    Turkey, Bul­gar­ia and Roma­nia may expand the NATO alliance’s mar­itime pres­ence in the Black Sea as part of a broad­er strat­e­gy to deter Rus­sia, NATO’s deputy chief said on Fri­day.

    NATO is look­ing to counter Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary build-up in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and in the Black Sea, which is strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant for both East and West giv­en its ener­gy reserves and close­ness to the Mid­dle East.

    “There are some very valu­able dis­cus­sions under way among the allies who live on the Black Sea ... of more close­ly inte­grat­ing their naval forces and oper­a­tions,” NATO’s Deputy Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow said in a vis­it to Sofia, men­tion­ing the three NATO allies by name.

    The U.S.-led alliance is con­cerned by what it sees as a Russ­ian strat­e­gy to try to block NATO from mov­ing about by air, land and sea by posi­tion­ing sur­face-to-air mis­sile bat­ter­ies and anti-ship mis­siles in Kalin­ingrad, the Black Sea and in Syr­ia.

    NATO already patrols the Black Sea, but Ver­sh­bow said that by the time West­ern lead­ers meet for a NATO sum­mit in July, allies could have “an enhanced pres­ence” in the area as part of plans to move troops on rota­tion into the Baltics and Poland.

    “We need to con­sid­er a more per­sis­tent NATO mil­i­tary pres­ence in the region, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on our mar­itime capa­bil­i­ties,” he said.

    Backed by a big increase in U.S. mil­i­tary spend­ing, NATO is set­ting up small east­ern out­posts, forces on rota­tion, reg­u­lar war games and ware­housed equip­ment ready for a rapid response force to deter Rus­sia. That force includes air, mar­itime and spe­cial oper­a­tions units of up to 40,000 per­son­nel.

    Wor­ried since the seizure of Crimea and pro-Russ­ian rebel oper­a­tions in east­ern Ukraine that Moscow could exert pres­sure on Poland or desta­bi­lize the Baltic states — per­haps by foment­ing unrest in their Russ­ian minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tions — the West wants to bol­ster defens­es on its east­ern flank with­out pro­vok­ing the Krem­lin by sta­tion­ing large forces per­ma­nent­ly.

    NATO says it respects a 1997 agree­ment with Moscow to avoid deploy­ing sub­stan­tial com­bat forces on Rus­si­a’s bor­ders.

    ...

    “We need to con­sid­er a more per­sis­tent NATO mil­i­tary pres­ence in the region, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on our mar­itime capa­bil­i­ties.”
    That sure sounds like plans for some­thing more than just a slight “enhance­ment” of NATO’s Black Sea pres­ence. Still, as the arti­cle below points out, Rus­sia has­n’t hes­i­tat­ed to remind NATO that the exist­ing Mon­treux Con­ven­tion regime on the sta­tus of the straits of Bosporus and the Dar­d­anelles pre­vent non-Black Sea nations from sud­den­ly send­ing a big NATO navy into the Black Sea. And that means, bar­ring a change in treaties, NATO is going to have to get cre­ative if there’s going to be a sud­den enhance­ment of NATO’s Black Sea foot­print over the next few months. And as the arti­cle below also makes clear, the cre­ative juices are indeed flow­ing, and flow­ing in direc­tion that could mean a sub­stan­tial amount of NATO funds being used to build up Ukraine’s Navy for use in a pro­posed joint Roman­ian-Bul­gar­i­an-Ukrain­ian naval force.

    And should all that hap­pen, not only will there be a qua­si-NATO-ish big new pres­ence in the region, but Ukraine’s mil­i­tary will be clos­er to NATO-stan­dards, mak­ing an even­tu­al inclu­sion of Ukraine in NATO that much more like­ly which would only freak out Rus­sia even more. So the more Rus­si­a’s neigh­bors ask for more NATO forces to ward off feared Russ­ian aggres­sion, the more freaked out Rus­sia is inevitably going to get. So, per­haps not sur­pris­ing­ly, Ukraine’s civ­il war and ongo­ing ten­sions with Rus­sia are start­ing to spill into the sea:

    UNIAN.info

    Ukraine’s creep­ing “entry” into NATO

    28.04.2016 | 09:15
    Kostyan­tyn Hon­charov

    Last week Ukraine, through its Pres­i­dent, voiced its readi­ness to join the Black Sea fleet under NATO lead­er­ship and to set up a joint brigade the Alliance’s mem­ber states – Roma­nia and Bul­gar­ia. UNIAN tried to fig­ure out the prospects for the imple­men­ta­tion of these ideas.

    The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance should assess a pos­si­bil­i­ty of a “more sus­tain­able mil­i­tary pres­ence” in the Black Sea region, that’s accord­ing to Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow, Deputy Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of NATO who addressed the Sofia (Bul­gar­ia) meet­ing of the Atlantic Club in the frame­work of the Black Sea Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence.

    Accord­ing to Ver­sh­bow, the thing is that the Alliance has faced strate­gic threats from two dif­fer­ent direc­tions at the same time. The first is the insta­bil­i­ty of the Bloc’s south­ern bor­ders that threat­ens to spill over into its ter­ri­to­ry in the shape of ter­ror­ism and uncon­trolled migra­tion. The sec­ond is the aggres­sive stance of Rus­sia, which defies inter­na­tion­al law and the sov­er­eign­ty of neigh­bor­ing states. In par­tic­u­lar, NATO con­cerned about the use by Rus­sia in the occu­pied Crimea of the A2AD sys­tems (Anti-Access Area-Denial), allow­ing, with min­i­mal resources, to cre­ate a bar­ri­er that, for exam­ple, would make it impos­si­ble for for­eign war­ships and sub­marines to get in the waters of the Black Sea.

    This con­cern is under­stand­able in the con­text of ear­li­er state­ments by NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg who said that NATO would con­tin­ue to build up its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Black Sea. First of all, it’s about naval forces as well as recon­nais­sance means and those for deploy­ment of rein­force­ments. But, giv­en that the Black Sea region hosts a num­ber of frozen con­flicts and sev­er­al tran­sit routes of ener­gy resources con­verge, NATO also plans to orga­nize aer­i­al sur­veil­lance with AWACS air­craft, based in Roma­nia, Bul­gar­ia, and Turkey.

    ...

    In turn, Rus­si­a’s posi­tion on this issue is very sim­ple: it will not tol­er­ate the attempts of extra-region­al pow­ers to increase their mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Black Sea. “The Black Sea is a con­stant, just as the coun­tries that sur­round it. We know that among the Black Sea states, Bul­gar­ia, Roma­nia and Turkey are mar­itime pow­ers. They have fleets in the Black Sea. Unit­ing them into the group or not – this is up to the mil­i­tary,” said Rus­si­a’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to NATO, Alexan­der Grushko.

    How­ev­er, accord­ing to him, the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion regime on the sta­tus of the straits of Bosporus and the Dar­d­anelles from the Black to the Mediter­ranean must remain invi­o­lable and “no attempts must be tak­en to change the regime in such a way as to facil­i­tate the pres­ence of extra-region­al pow­ers in the Black Sea.”

    A Free­dom Flotil­la

    It is curi­ous that it was Roma­nia, who voiced the ini­tia­tive to set up a Black Sea NATO flotil­la. This coun­try can hard­ly be called an “extra-region­al pow­er” in the Black Sea. Anoth­er thing is how seri­ous­ly the Alliance will take this idea and how quick­ly it can be imple­ment­ed. The thing is that, accord­ing to the for­eign polit­i­cal ana­lyst Taras Chornovil, Roma­nia can­not boast author­i­ty among NATO mem­ber states to the lev­el for its ini­tia­tives to be addressed by the Alliance as a pri­or­i­ty. “How­ev­er, there is a num­ber of cir­cum­stances, which does gives hope that this ini­tia­tive will be sup­port­ed. First of all, there is a threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion in the Black Sea, the provoca­tive behav­ior of the Russ­ian armed forces and the under­stand­ing that it is bet­ter to resort to some pre­ven­tive action than to ran­dom­ly find a way out of the sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

    Actu­al­ly, any pos­si­ble aggres­sive actions against Bul­gar­ia or Roma­nia will force NATO to respond. But react­ing to some­thing that has already hap­pened is much worse than deter­ring poten­tial aggres­sion.

    Accord­ing to the expert, this is con­text, in which the cre­ation of a com­bat-capa­ble fleet in the Black Sea should be con­sid­ered. “Its pres­ence could deter any provoca­tive actions,” said Chornovil.

    A mil­i­tary expert, direc­tor of mil­i­tary pro­grams at Razumkov Cen­ter, Myko­la Sun­gurovsky, also notes that the cre­ation of such a fleet would help a par­i­ty bal­ance of forces emerge in the Black Sea. And, of course, Ukraine’s acces­sion to this for­ma­tion seems quite rea­son­able. But only in the future. Because, as of today, Ukraine doesn’t have much to offer in order to join the NATO fleet. “At the moment, we can take part in the NATO flotil­la with the Ukrain­ian frigate Het­man Sahaidachnyi, for exam­ple,” said Sun­gurovsky. ‘Sub­se­quent­ly, if this fleet is estab­lished, I think, that NATO fund­ing will be pro­vid­ed for the devel­op­ment of the oper­a­tional capac­i­ty of such fleet. That is, Ukraine will receive addi­tion­al resources for the devel­op­ment of its Navy.”

    Prob­lem­at­ic issues

    In prin­ci­ple, this fleet “can be cre­at­ed on the basis of the already exist­ing BLACKSEAFOR, as Petro Poroshenko men­tioned. But the prob­lem is that Rus­sia is also a par­ty to it,” said the expert.

    How­ev­er, exclud­ing Rus­sia from BLACKSEAFOR requires a lot of polit­i­cal will from oth­er mem­bers. Besides, this would require the cre­ation of an entire­ly new asso­ci­a­tion under the aegis of NATO. “We need to deter­mine why this flotil­la is cre­at­ed, with what forces and means, what risks bears the cre­ation of such a for­ma­tion,” he said. All of this should be put on a polit­i­cal agen­da of the Black Sea coun­tries and, after that, at the NATO lev­el.”

    In this con­text, Russia’s warn­ings con­sid­er­ing pos­si­ble estab­lish­ment of such a fleet are not ground­less. In oth­er words, if we are talk­ing about the cre­ation of an asso­ci­a­tion on the basis of the naval forces of the Black Sea states exclu­sive­ly, these forces will be quite lim­it­ed. If it is about attract­ing oth­er NATO mem­ber states, then this issue should be resolved with­in the frame­work of the agree­ments on the Black Sea straits. “If the flotil­la is sup­posed to be a per­ma­nent body, the issue should be resolved with Turkey in the frame­work of the agree­ments on the Black Sea straits. Accord­ing to the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion, ships of the non-Black Sea states can enter the Black Sea for a lim­it­ed time only,” said Sun­gurovsky.

    The sit­u­a­tion can be resolved, accord­ing to Chornovil, with addi­tion­al financ­ing from NATO aimed at build­ing new ves­sels for the fleet with­in the Black Sea states. In par­tic­u­lar, for Ukraine, which has for a long time has coop­er­at­ed with NATO, not being a mem­ber state. In this case, “NATO wouldn’t need to ‘rip off’ an exces­sive amount of ves­sels from its fleet in the Mediter­ranean,” and the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion would not be com­pro­mised.

    Broth­ers in Arms on land and at sea

    As for the mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial coop­er­a­tion between the Black Sea coun­tries in gen­er­al, Ukraine, Roma­nia, and Bul­gar­ia are also con­sid­er­ing a pos­si­bil­i­ty of set­ting up a joint mil­i­tary brigade sim­i­lar to the recent­ly cre­at­ed Lithuan­ian-Pol­ish-Ukrain­ian brigade ( LITPOLUKRBRIG). “With­in NATO, nobody for­bids to orga­nize such groups in the inter­est of region­al secu­ri­ty. This leads to greater sol­i­dar­i­ty. And if the part­ner­ship involves the non-mem­ber states, this leads to an increase in the lev­el of trust,” said Myko­la Sun­gurovsky.

    How­ev­er, accord­ing to the expert, the imple­men­ta­tion of this idea lies in the same polit­i­cal plain as the idea of the flotil­la. “It is impor­tant that the issue of estab­lish­ing a brigade not become bureau­cra­tized. The Lithuan­ian-Pol­ish-Ukrain­ian Brigade was being cre­at­ed for 12 years, and its estab­lish­ment was ham­pered by bureau­crat­ic pro­ce­dures. The armed con­flict between Ukraine and Rus­sia has pushed to accel­er­ate its cre­ation,” said the ana­lyst.

    Accord­ing to him, today, there is a sit­u­a­tion when the ques­tion of cre­at­ing such a for­ma­tion would be treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly. Espe­cial­ly since Ukraine’s nation­al inter­ests do not con­flict with the inter­ests of oth­er coun­tries in the Black Sea region. “We have rough­ly the same views on the threats and on how to pre­vent them. And these are, in fact, the cri­te­ria for inte­gra­tion,” he added.

    More­over, such mil­i­tary part­ner­ship con­tributes to Ukraine grad­u­al­ly approach­ing the NATO stan­dards.

    Prop­er inte­gra­tion

    As for the inter­ests of the Alliance, set­ting up a joint form­ing by two coun­tries in the same region is an addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty to syn­chro­nize the efforts of forces, to work out var­i­ous sce­nar­ios at joint exer­cis­es. More­over, it is not so much about the Russ­ian mil­i­tary aggres­sion in Don­bas and the pos­si­ble esca­la­tion of the occu­pa­tion forces in Crimea. It’s more about par­tic­i­pat­ing in peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions in gen­er­al. In par­tic­u­lar, about the issues of fight­ing ter­ror­ism, coun­ter­ing man-made dis­as­ters, ille­gal migra­tion, etc. That is, if need­ed, these units will already have been pre­pared, because the schemes and method­ol­o­gy of joint action will have been worked out.

    Giv­en that Ukraine is not a NATO mem­ber state and has no mem­ber­ship prospects in the near future, the estab­lish­ment of a joint brigade is one of the options, which is ful­ly sup­port­ed by the country’s West­ern part­ners. And it would be fool­ish not to use this oppor­tu­ni­ty. “The brigade will have a sta­bi­liz­ing, pos­i­tive impact on the over­all secu­ri­ty archi­tec­ture in the region, allow­ing Ukraine to work out region­al com­bat mis­sions, estab­lish clos­er coop­er­a­tion at the lev­el of depart­ments and struc­tur­al units of the mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion of Ukraine and NATO mem­ber states,” said polit­i­cal expert, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Civ­il Soci­ety Stud­ies Vitaliy Kulik.

    Thus, such units would be an excel­lent mil­i­tary train­ing base for the Ukrain­ian army. In this regard, it should not be exclud­ed that in the near future, the estab­lish­ment of such mil­i­tary units with Hun­gary, Slo­va­kia, and pos­si­bly the Czech Repub­lic will also be con­sid­ered.

    “In this con­text, Russia’s warn­ings con­sid­er­ing pos­si­ble estab­lish­ment of such a fleet are not ground­less. In oth­er words, if we are talk­ing about the cre­ation of an asso­ci­a­tion on the basis of the naval forces of the Black Sea states exclu­sive­ly, these forces will be quite lim­it­ed. If it is about attract­ing oth­er NATO mem­ber states, then this issue should be resolved with­in the frame­work of the agree­ments on the Black Sea straits. “If the flotil­la is sup­posed to be a per­ma­nent body, the issue should be resolved with Turkey in the frame­work of the agree­ments on the Black Sea straits. Accord­ing to the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion, ships of the non-Black Sea states can enter the Black Sea for a lim­it­ed time only,” said Sun­gurovsky.”
    Yep, if the pro­posed sig­nif­i­cant naval build up in the Black Sea is going to hap­pen soon, and that appears to be what NATO states want, either NATO rapid­ly trans­forms a Bul­gar­i­an-Roman­ian-Ukrain­ian naval force into a sub­stan­tial pres­ence by basi­cal­ly just giv­ing them sub­stan­tial navies, or the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion that gives Turkey con­trol of the Bosporus Straits and Dar­d­anelles and restricts the pas­sage of non-Black Sea states is going to have to get over­hauled soon.

    So while it’s unclear what exact­ly to expect at this point, it sounds like a dra­mat­ic esca­la­tion of ten­sions in the Black Sea over the next year is some­thing we should expect in gen­er­al. And since the rene­go­ti­a­tion of the Mon­treux Con­ven­tion is the path NATO takes, Turkey is poised to once again extract some major con­ces­sion from Europe and the West. In oth­er words, in oth­er words, if this new Black Sea NATO navy is going to come to fruition, Turkey, a NATO mem­ber, will prob­a­bly have to be giv­en an even big­ger free-pass as Pres­i­dent Erdo­gan turns the coun­try into his per­son­al fief­dom. It would be more than a lit­tle iron­ic if that’s how this plays out and Erdo­gan becomes accept­able NATO’s dic­ta­tor. Not super sur­pris­ing, but still iron­ic.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 9, 2016, 3:12 pm
  6. Check out the lat­est exam­ple of the nor­mal­iza­tion of the far-right in Europe and the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Nazis and their many col­lab­o­ra­tors: in a recent joint dec­la­ra­tion the gov­ern­ments of Esto­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Poland, Croa­t­ia, Slo­va­kia, Hun­gary, and the Czech Repub­lic called for an inves­ti­ga­tion into the crimes of the com­mu­nists regimes of Europe and pros­e­cu­tions based on those inves­ti­ga­tions that is equal to the post-WWII inves­ti­ga­tion into the crimes of the Nazis:

    ERR.ee

    Eight EU mem­bers make joint state­ment con­cern­ing vic­tims of com­mu­nism

    24.08.2017 04:15

    The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Esto­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Poland, Croa­t­ia, Slo­va­kia, Hun­gary, and Czechia issued a joint state­ment on Wednes­day call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion of crimes com­mit­ted by com­mu­nist regimes equal to the mea­sures tak­en after World War II to deal with the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by Nazi Ger­many.

    Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Urmas Rein­salu (IRL) said that the con­dem­na­tion of all crimes against human­i­ty, and human rights vio­la­tions com­mit­ted by all total­i­tar­i­an and author­i­tar­i­an regimes was the basis of com­mem­o­ra­tion, and added that Europe should remem­ber the vic­tims of all these regimes.

    “Today, on the Europe-wide Day of Remem­brance for the Vic­tims of all Total­i­tar­i­an and Author­i­tar­i­an Regimes, we com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of polit­i­cal ter­ror in a dig­ni­fied and unbi­ased man­ner. We com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of com­mu­nist ter­ror, who in most cas­es only for their class sta­tus were mur­dered, sent to the com­mu­nist Gulag, or were stripped of their human rights from the begin­ning of com­mu­nist pow­er in Rus­sia to the final days of the com­mu­nist regimes in Europe. We com­mem­o­rate the mil­lions of peo­ple who in mul­ti­ple coun­tries were mur­dered or sent to con­cen­tra­tion camps by nation­al social­ists and their min­ions. We espe­cial­ly com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of the Holo­caust, who were mur­dered sole­ly for being Jew­ish. Total­i­tar­i­an and author­i­tar­i­an regimes have not dis­ap­peared from the world, and we must also remem­ber and com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of those regimes,” Rein­salu said.

    Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the del­e­ga­tions of Esto­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Poland, Croa­t­ia, Slo­va­kia, Hun­gary, and Czechia issued a joint state­ment at the min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing, say­ing that under the com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ships in Europe, hun­dreds of thou­sands of inno­cent peo­ple were exe­cut­ed, killed, impris­oned, tor­tured, forced to per­form slave labor, or deport­ed.

    No process of find­ing out the truth and estab­lish­ing jus­tice com­pa­ra­ble to what had tak­en place in Ger­many after the Sec­ond World War against the per­pe­tra­tors of Nazi crimes had ever been under­tak­en in the more than 25 years that passed since the fall of the com­mu­nist regimes in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe, the del­e­ga­tions said. The mem­o­ry of the vic­tims of the com­mu­nist regimes demand­ed the inves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion of the per­pe­tra­tors of those crimes as well.

    The del­e­ga­tions also par­tic­i­pat­ed in a com­mem­o­ra­tive cer­e­mo­ny at the War of Inde­pen­dence Vic­to­ry Col­umn in Tallinn. A memo­r­i­al con­fer­ence titled “The lega­cy of the crimes of com­mu­nist regimes in 21st-cen­tu­ry Europe” was held at the Tallinn Cre­ative Hub on Wednes­day. For­mer dis­si­dent and Eston­ian MEP Tunne Kelam (IRL/EPP), who deliv­ered the open­ing speech, said that “We must take down the men­tal Berlin Wall that at times divides our think­ing and under­stand­ing also today, 28 years after the fall of the phys­i­cal Berlin Wall” refer­ring to the atti­tude towards the crimes of total­i­tar­i­an regimes in Europe.

    ...

    ———-

    “Eight EU mem­bers make joint state­ment con­cern­ing vic­tims of com­mu­nism”; ERR.ee; 08/24/2017

    “No process of find­ing out the truth and estab­lish­ing jus­tice com­pa­ra­ble to what had tak­en place in Ger­many after the Sec­ond World War against the per­pe­tra­tors of Nazi crimes had ever been under­tak­en in the more than 25 years that passed since the fall of the com­mu­nist regimes in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe, the del­e­ga­tions said. The mem­o­ry of the vic­tims of the com­mu­nist regimes demand­ed the inves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion of the per­pe­tra­tors of those crimes as well.”

    That was the joint from these for­mer East­er Bloc coun­tries. They just want equal treat­ment between the crimes of the Nazis and crimes of the com­mu­nists. And putting aside the moral dubi­ous­ness of equat­ing the two (the Nazis has a goal of exter­mi­nat­ing or enslav­ing non-Aryans, let’s not for­get), it’s worth not­ing that if equal treat­ment is tru­ly giv­en then it’s going to be impor­tant these same coun­tries pro­ceed and pop­u­lar move­ments large­ly backed by the major­i­ty pop­u­la­tions and gov­ern­ments to white­wash, jus­ti­fy and large­ly for­get the com­mu­nist crimes they come across dur­ing their inves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion. To be fair.

    It’s also worth not­ing that this dec­la­ra­tion hap­pened at a con­fer­ence in Esto­nia, the cur­rent EU mem­ber state that got the rotat­ing EU coun­cil pres­i­den­cy start­ing in July for the first time:

    ERR.ee

    EU’s left­ists accuse Esto­nia of politi­ciz­ing EU pres­i­den­cy

    23.08.2017 02:15

    The Euro­pean Unit­ed Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has crit­i­cized today’s con­fer­ence in Tallinn titled “The lega­cy of the crimes of com­mu­nist regimes in 21st-cen­tu­ry Europe”. They are accus­ing Esto­nia of politi­ciz­ing its EU coun­cil pres­i­den­cy.

    EU pol­i­tics and news por­tal Eurac­tiv report­ed on Tues­day that the Greek min­is­ter of jus­tice, Stavros Kon­to­nis, had turned down an invi­ta­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the con­fer­ence.

    While the Eston­ian EU coun­cil pres­i­den­cy says that the event to be held today on the Day of Remem­brance for Vic­tims of Com­mu­nist and Nazi Regimes is meant to com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of all total­i­tar­i­an and author­i­tar­i­an regimes, the left­ist group in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment sees things dif­fer­ent­ly: The con­fer­ence was an “insult to Euro­pean his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry”, they said on Tues­day.

    “At a time when the far right and neon­azis are tak­ing advan­tage of the fail­ures of EU poli­cies, equat­ing Nazism with com­mu­nism is his­tor­i­cal­ly false, dan­ger­ous, and unac­cept­able. More­over, the fact that the Eston­ian gov­ern­ment chose to focus on ‘com­mu­nist crimes’ clear­ly shows an intent to use the insti­tu­tion of the rotat­ing EU pres­i­den­cy for ide­o­log­i­cal pur­pos­es,” the group said.

    They urged the jus­tice min­is­ters of the EU mem­ber states, espe­cial­ly those of pro­gres­sive ori­en­ta­tion, to boy­cott the event like the Greek gov­ern­ment did.

    ...

    The con­fer­ence, to be held in Tallinn today Wednes­day, is ded­i­cat­ed to the inves­ti­ga­tion of the lega­cy of the crimes of com­mu­nist regimes. Acts rang­ing from the abuse and tor­ture of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers to the per­se­cu­tion of spe­cif­ic groups in the pop­u­la­tion as well as crimes against human­i­ty in the form of purges and arti­fi­cial­ly caused famines are part of the lega­cy of those regimes, some of it is part of Estonia’s expe­ri­ence as well.

    From Estonia’s point of view, that peri­od end­ed 26 years ago, spokesper­son for the Eston­ian Jus­tice Min­istry Katrin Lunt said. Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Urmas Rein­salu (IRL) told ERR News in a short inter­view on Tues­day that apart from the moral imper­a­tive to inves­ti­gate these crimes, final­ly deal­ing with them was impor­tant to keep sim­i­lar things from hap­pen­ing again in the future.

    ———-

    “EU’s left­ists accuse Esto­nia of politi­ciz­ing EU pres­i­den­cy”; ERR.ee; 08/23/2017

    ““At a time when the far right and neon­azis are tak­ing advan­tage of the fail­ures of EU poli­cies, equat­ing Nazism with com­mu­nism is his­tor­i­cal­ly false, dan­ger­ous, and unac­cept­able. More­over, the fact that the Eston­ian gov­ern­ment chose to focus on ‘com­mu­nist crimes’ clear­ly shows an intent to use the insti­tu­tion of the rotat­ing EU pres­i­den­cy for ide­o­log­i­cal pur­pos­es,” the group said.”

    That seems like a pret­ty rea­son­able take on the sit­u­a­tion: while the Eston­ian gov­ern­ment claims that they mere­ly want to ‘deal’ with that his­to­ry so it’s not repeat­ed (while the Eston­ian Waf­fen SS gets its image reha­bil­i­tat­ed), it’s pret­ty obvi­ous that focus­ing on the crimes of com­mu­nism while white­wash­ing the crimes of the far-right is pri­or­i­ty for Esto­ni­a’s gov­ern­ment. And since the EU coun­cil pres­i­den­cy rotates every six months and, as the cur­rent pres­i­dent, Esto­nia gets to define the coun­cil’s agen­da, that means any oth­er dec­la­ra­tions or EU coun­cil maneu­vers of this nature that require the EU coun­cil pres­i­den­cy that these eight mem­ber states might want to issue is going to have to hap­pen before Bul­gar­ia takes over in Jan­u­ary.

    And in oth­er news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 30, 2017, 9:30 pm
  7. In case it was­n’t obvi­ous that pri­va­tiz­ing the grounds of a WWII con­cen­tra­tion camp was prob­a­bly a bad idea, the Sev­enth Fort con­cen­tra­tion camp in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia, which was pri­va­tized back in in 2009, gave us a pret­ty good exam­ple of why you don’t want to do this last August when the may­or of Kau­nas had to defend the use of the site for wed­ding recep­tions and oth­er recre­ation­al activ­i­ties. But in case you’re still not con­vinced that it was a huge mis­take, check out the lat­est use of the site:

    The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle

    Lithuan­ian sol­diers train to fight Rus­sia at con­cen­tra­tion camp

    The sol­diers were found to be train­ing to fight Russ­ian troops at one of the first con­cen­tra­tion camps set up by the Nazis

    Rosa Doher­ty
    Sep­tem­ber 1, 2017

    Lithuan­ian sol­diers have been car­ry­ing out mil­i­tary train­ing on the grounds of a for­mer con­cen­tra­tion camp and bur­ial ground for Jews.

    The sol­diers were found to be train­ing to fight Russ­ian troops at one of the first con­cen­tra­tion camps set up by the Nazis after the begin­ning of the war with the Sovi­et Union.

    Accord­ing to the Kauno Diena news web­site the sol­diers deployed at Sev­enth Fort, in Kau­nas, were there as part of a mil­i­tary drill.

    The con­cen­tra­tion camp is home to the remains of 5,000 mur­dered Jews, who were buried in mass graves.

    Sev­enth Fort is often vis­it­ed by rel­a­tives who come to light can­dles and pray in mem­o­ry of those mur­dered there.

    The site was pri­va­tised by the gov­ern­ment in 2009 despite con­cerns being raised at the time by the Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty of Lithua­nia.

    The group said it was a “huge mis­take” to pri­va­tise the camp.

    The 18-acre bunker site is man­aged by a non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion led by Vladimir Orlov, a 38-year-old ama­teur his­to­ri­an and mil­i­tary enthu­si­ast.

    Mr Orlov charges an entrance fee to the site, which is also used for children’s sum­mer camps and rent­ed out for pri­vate events.

    Last year he told the JTA the mon­ey made from the camp was used to pre­serve the site as an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion.

    He said it teach­es vis­i­tors about the Holo­caust.

    Mr Orlov would not com­ment on how much rev­enue the camp brings in, or how much was spent on com­mem­o­ra­tion.

    Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter said the gov­ern­ment had shown a “incred­i­ble lack of sen­si­tiv­i­ty” by train­ing on the grounds.

    Mr Zuroff said he was also con­cerned that the deploy­ment risked the des­e­cra­tion of the bur­ial grounds since the area is not fenced off.

    The Lithuan­ian government’s fear over the expan­sion­ist poli­cies of Rus­sia has result­ed in it updat­ing its own defence capa­bil­i­ties in recent months.

    Thou­sands of Lithuan­ian troops attend­ed train­ing with NATO con­tin­gents across the coun­try this sum­mer.

    ...

    ———-

    “Lithuan­ian sol­diers train to fight Rus­sia at con­cen­tra­tion camp” by Rosa Doher­ty; The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle; 09/01/2017

    “The sol­diers were found to be train­ing to fight Russ­ian troops at one of the first con­cen­tra­tion camps set up by the Nazis after the begin­ning of the war with the Sovi­et Union.”

    Yes, Lithua­nia is a rel­a­tive­ly small coun­try, but was there any­where else this train­ing could have tak­en place? Any­where?

    And what’s next? Are we going to learn the far-right Lithuan­ian Rifle­men’s Union took part in the exer­cis­es too? Well, if we did learn that it would­n’t be too sur­pris­ing giv­en the reports of the Lithuan­ian Rifle­men’s Union par­tic­i­pat­ing in joint anti-Russ­ian exer­cis­es with the mil­i­tary back in Decem­ber:

    Politico.EU

    Baltic min­ute­men fight Russ­ian foe

    Para­mil­i­tary groups are on the rise to counter the threat from the east.

    By Jonathan Brown

    12/6/16, 5:30 AM CET
    Updat­ed 12/6/16, 7:48 AM CET

    PABRADE, Lithua­nia — Peer­ing past the black tarps cov­er­ing the win­dows of the bar­ri­cad­ed house, the men in cam­ou­flage could see day­light grad­u­al­ly illu­mi­nate the fresh snow.

    For two days, speak­ers out­side the bar­ri­cad­ed build­ings had blast­ed Sovi­et-era jin­gles: “Put down your guns! Your lead­ers have for­got­ten you! While you stand here and freeze, oth­er men are hav­ing fun with your women!”

    The sep­a­ratists holed up in their head­quar­ters had been get­ting defens­es ready for the day­break assault, nois­i­ly load­ing blanks into the mag­a­zines of their semi-auto­mat­ic weapons and assem­bling dud IEDs.

    In this joint train­ing exer­cise with the country’s mil­i­tary, the Lithuan­ian Rifle­men played the role of sep­a­ratists declar­ing a break­away repub­lic, much like the Moscow-backed rebels did in east­ern Ukraine in 2014 — a sce­nario some fear may be repli­cat­ed here.

    Indeed, since Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea two years ago and the ensu­ing con­flict in east­ern Ukraine, the Riflemen’s Union, a para­mil­i­tary group con­ceived almost a cen­tu­ry ago, has seen a sharp rise in mem­ber­ship. The group, which boasts more than 10,000 mem­bers, aspires to rebuild its post-World War I mem­ber­ship of more than 80,000 in a coun­try of 2.8 mil­lion peo­ple.

    Anoth­er EU and NATO mem­ber might be unnerved by the grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of a para­mil­i­tary force oper­at­ing with­in its bor­ders. But since Lithua­nia gained inde­pen­dence from the Sovi­et Union in the ear­ly nineties, the para­mil­i­tary group has foment­ed close ties with the mil­i­tary.

    The Union’s code of con­duct aligns it with Lithuania’s armed forces, and it has so far proven to be a fierce­ly loy­al part­ner. When a Riflemen’s Union leader last year crit­i­cized the mil­i­tary for rein­stat­ing con­scrip­tion, he became the sub­ject of an embar­rass­ing and pub­lic vote of no con­fi­dence.

    “We have to look to the con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of Lithua­nia,” said Major Ged­im­i­nas Latvys of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces in Vil­nius. “It says that the defense of the coun­try, in the event of an armed attack, is the right and the duty of every cit­i­zen. We see the Riflemen’s Union as one orga­ni­za­tion that helps peo­ple to ful­fill this duty.”

    The may­or of Vil­nius, a semi-celebri­ty mem­ber of the Riflemen’s Union, was among those to join after the “events in Ukraine.” Remigi­jus Sima­sius’ moti­va­tion for vol­un­teer­ing, he said at in his skyrise office in Vil­nius, was “not relat­ed to the fear of whether Rus­sia would attack, but more about the gen­er­al prin­ci­ple of being ready and being pre­pared.”

    “Peo­ple have to con­tribute to their own safe­ty,” he said. Nation­al secu­ri­ty “is not just a func­tion of the state.” Ref­er­enc­ing the Sovi­et takeover of Lithua­nia in 1940, when the country’s mil­i­tary laid down arms, he said, “some­times the state gives up, but that doesn’t mean soci­ety gives up.”

    Min­dau­gas Petraitis, 34, is a trans­la­tor in his civil­ian life — oth­er Rifle­men are tax con­sul­tants and small busi­ness own­ers — and says he was among the first wave of men and women to join the para­mil­i­taries in 2014.

    After wit­ness­ing Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea and the ensu­ing con­flict in Ukraine, “we felt very strong­ly that we have to pre­pare while we still have time,” he said. “We rarely use the pre­cise word for our ene­my in a mil­i­tary set­ting, but inside every­one knows who the ene­my is,” he added, refrain­ing from using the word “Rus­sia.”

    Since 2014, the Lithuan­ian Min­istry of Defense has issued a year­ly man­u­al of what to do in case of inva­sion. This year’s edi­tion, with a print run of 30,000 dis­trib­uted to schools and libraries around the coun­try, unam­bigu­ous­ly iden­ti­fies what it believes to be the pri­ma­ry threat to Lithuania’s nation­al secu­ri­ty. “Most atten­tion should be paid towards the actions of our neigh­bor­ing state Rus­sia,” the man­u­al states. “This nation does not shy away from using armed pow­er against its neigh­bors. At this time, in prin­ci­ple, it con­tin­ues mil­i­tary aggres­sion against Ukraine.”

    Beyond advis­ing cit­i­zens on how to resist an occu­py­ing pow­er — point­ers include iden­ti­fy­ing col­lab­o­ra­tors and hand­ing them over to resis­tance groups — the man­u­al encour­ages civil­ian readi­ness by com­plet­ing basic mil­i­tary train­ing or join­ing the Riflemen’s Union.

    The rise of para­mil­i­tary groups across East­ern and Cen­tral Europe appears to be “a nat­ur­al response to the con­flu­ence of two forces,” said Michael Kof­man, a research sci­en­tist at the Cen­tre for Naval Analy­sis and a fel­low at the Wil­son Cen­ter. “A gen­er­al increase of nation­al­ist sen­ti­ments across Europe and the per­cep­tion of greater threat from Rus­sia.”

    Sim­i­lar groups in the neigh­bor­ing Baltic states of Latvia and Esto­nia have also seen increased mem­ber­ship since the annex­a­tion of Crimea, and the Lithuan­ian Riflemen’s Union is in the process of for­mal­iz­ing rela­tion­ships with the youth wings of both the Lat­vian Nation­al Guard and Esto­nia Defense League.

    In Cen­tral Europe, groups in Poland, Slo­va­kia, the Czech Repub­lic and Hun­gary have sprung up along­side a rise in right-wing sen­ti­ment in the region and the refugee cri­sis in Europe.

    Para­mil­i­tary groups across East­ern and Cen­tral Europe, “encom­pass a diverse array of orga­ni­za­tions,” said Arthur de Liedek­erke, an exter­nal ana­lyst for the Brus­sels-based Glob­al Gov­er­nance Insti­tute. “Their means, objec­tives and rela­tion to the state often vary con­sid­er­ably.”

    Para­mil­i­tary “will chal­lenge gov­ern­ment author­i­ty on the mar­gins and must be care­ful­ly trimmed in pow­er,” said Kof­man. “Play­ing with nation­al­ism is like hold­ing a tiger by the tail.”

    The Union’s lead­er­ship encour­ages mem­bers to arm them­selves with hand­guns, specif­i­cal­ly Glock 17s, which cur­rent Lithuan­ian gun laws allows. Rifle­men can pur­chase the pis­tols at a dis­count and store them in safes at home.

    But “what can you do with a pis­tol?” asked a Rifle­man (jok­ing­ly) who was pre­vi­ous­ly a sniper in the police spe­cial forces. “Shoot your way to a rifle,” he added, deliv­er­ing his own punch­line.

    Lithuania’s already lib­er­al gun own­er­ship laws are set to be relaxed fur­ther. By Jan­u­ary, mem­bers of the Riflemen’s Union will be encour­aged to pur­chase semi-auto­mat­ic rifles under new laws that allow gun pos­ses­sion for the express pur­pose of “coun­try defense.”

    “I think deter­rence is the pri­ma­ry aim of any country’s defense sys­tem — to deter, not to fight,” said Liu­das Gumbi­nas, com­man­der of the Riflemen’s Union, whose salary is paid by the Min­istry of Defense.

    Along with the Riflemen’s strate­gic alliances with the armed forces, its deci­sion to invite mem­bers to arm them­selves with semi-auto­mat­ic weapons, Gumbi­nas said, is part of strength­en­ing that deter­rent, a pol­i­cy he said is akin to “not just shout­ing, but actu­al­ly doing some­thing.”

    But he is quick to point out that the Union is more than a gun tot­ing boy’s club. With near­ly half of the Riflemen’s Union mem­bers under the age of 18, the Union’s free sum­mer youth camps, which he likens to the Scouts, famil­iar­ize thou­sands of Lithuania’s youth with mil­i­tary val­ues and struc­tures.

    “We are build­ing the youth to become good cit­i­zens,” Gumbi­nas said of the camps, which take place at mil­i­tary facil­i­ties and aim to devel­op children’s “lead­er­ship skills, nature sur­vival skills, self-con­fi­dence, but all under a mil­i­tary frame­work.”

    Kof­man said that gov­ern­ments should always be con­cerned by the rise of para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tions, espe­cial­ly since such groups often rise in response to a threat. “But the threat in most cas­es nev­er mate­ri­al­izes [and so] they look to occu­py them­selves. Some tran­si­tion into pol­i­tics and form far-right par­ties, oth­ers may choose to serve as mus­cle for crim­i­nal ele­ments.”

    The Riflemen’s Union has been an inte­gral part of Neiman­tas Psilen­skis’ life since he joined 10 years ago. When the 24-year-old descend­ed the steps of the Gar­ri­son church in Kau­nas, arm in arm with his new wife last month, the Union’s Hon­orary Guard salut­ed the young cou­ple in full regalia and World War II-era bay­o­net­ed rifles.

    Psilen­skis, a part-time employ­ee of the Riflemen’s Union and part-time con­struc­tion work­er, said his sense of patri­o­tism and loy­al­ty towards the Union was nour­ished as a young mem­ber.

    “I’m a patri­ot,” Psilen­skis said. “No one would need to ask me if I would defend my home­land. Just give me a gun. You don’t need to ask. Maybe the fact that I came to the Riflemen’s Union at a young age formed these instincts.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Baltic min­ute­men fight Russ­ian foe” by Jonathan Brown; Politico.EU; 12/06/2016

    “Anoth­er EU and NATO mem­ber might be unnerved by the grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of a para­mil­i­tary force oper­at­ing with­in its bor­ders. But since Lithua­nia gained inde­pen­dence from the Sovi­et Union in the ear­ly nineties, the para­mil­i­tary group has foment­ed close ties with the mil­i­tary.”

    Yes, oth­er EU and NATO mem­bers might be unnerved by a para­mil­i­tary force sud­den­ly surg­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty, but not in Lithua­nia or the oth­er Baltic states where the WWII-era para­mil­i­tary groups are all the rage. And that embrace of para­mil­i­taries includes clos­er and clos­er ties to the mil­i­tary, includ­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in train­ing exer­cis­es:

    ...
    >In this joint train­ing exer­cise with the country’s mil­i­tary, the Lithuan­ian Rifle­men played the role of sep­a­ratists declar­ing a break­away repub­lic, much like the Moscow-backed rebels did in east­ern Ukraine in 2014 — a sce­nario some fear may be repli­cat­ed here.
    ...

    And the Lithuan­ian Min­istry of Defense actu­al­ly advis­es cit­i­zens to join the group:

    ...
    Since 2014, the Lithuan­ian Min­istry of Defense has issued a year­ly man­u­al of what to do in case of inva­sion. This year’s edi­tion, with a print run of 30,000 dis­trib­uted to schools and libraries around the coun­try, unam­bigu­ous­ly iden­ti­fies what it believes to be the pri­ma­ry threat to Lithuania’s nation­al secu­ri­ty. “Most atten­tion should be paid towards the actions of our neigh­bor­ing state Rus­sia,” the man­u­al states. “This nation does not shy away from using armed pow­er against its neigh­bors. At this time, in prin­ci­ple, it con­tin­ues mil­i­tary aggres­sion against Ukraine.”

    Beyond advis­ing cit­i­zens on how to resist an occu­py­ing pow­er — point­ers include iden­ti­fy­ing col­lab­o­ra­tors and hand­ing them over to resis­tance groups — the man­u­al encour­ages civil­ian readi­ness by com­plet­ing basic mil­i­tary train­ing or join­ing the Riflemen’s Union.
    ...

    And then there’s the recent relax­ation of gun own­er­ship laws to allow for semi-auto­mat­ic rifles (which of course can be con­vert­ed to auto­mat­ic rifles), which the Rifle­men are of course now encour­aged to acquire:

    ...
    Lithuania’s already lib­er­al gun own­er­ship laws are set to be relaxed fur­ther. By Jan­u­ary, mem­bers of the Riflemen’s Union will be encour­aged to pur­chase semi-auto­mat­ic rifles under new laws that allow gun pos­ses­sion for the express pur­pose of “coun­try defense.”

    “I think deter­rence is the pri­ma­ry aim of any country’s defense sys­tem — to deter, not to fight,” said Liu­das Gumbi­nas, com­man­der of the Riflemen’s Union, whose salary is paid by the Min­istry of Defense.

    Along with the Riflemen’s strate­gic alliances with the armed forces, its deci­sion to invite mem­bers to arm them­selves with semi-auto­mat­ic weapons, Gumbi­nas said, is part of strength­en­ing that deter­rent, a pol­i­cy he said is akin to “not just shout­ing, but actu­al­ly doing some­thing.”
    ...

    Semi-auto­mat­ic weapons for para­mil­i­tary groups. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

    So while the des­e­cra­tion of the mem­o­ries of the peo­ple buried at that con­cen­tra­tion camp for the sake of anti-Russ­ian mil­i­tary exer­cis­es is indeed a dis­turb­ing new instance of the grow­ing offi­cial embrace of far-right norms in the Bal­itcs, let’s not for­get that the gen­er­al embrace of far-right norms across Europe, and espe­cial­ly in the Baltics, that’s been going on for quite some time now also qual­i­fies as a des­e­cra­tion of the mem­o­ries of the peo­ple buried at that site. It’s just a much more direct form of des­e­cra­tion in this instance.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 5, 2017, 7:37 pm

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