ILIA STATE UNIVERSITY

Vytautas Landsbergis

Vytautas Landsbergis – Lithuanian professor, conservative politician and member of the European Parliament. He was the first head of state of Lithuania after its independence declaration from the Soviet Union, and served as the Head of the Lithuanian Parliament Seimas. Professor Landsbergis is an intellectual who has been active in Lithuania’s political arena for more than two decades, and is a notable politician who helped contribute to the demise of the Soviet Union. He has written twenty books on a variety of topics, including works on politics and music. He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, and a member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Professor of Conservatory Landsbergis began his active political career began in 1988, as one of the founders of an independent political movement of Lithuania. In 1990, after winning the election, he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania.

On 11 March 1990, Landsbergis was chairing of the parliamentary session, under which Lithuania separated from the Soviet Union and declared its independence. Consequently, Lithuania became the first independent republic. According to the Constitution of Lithuania, Landsbergis became the leader of the state, as well as parliament speaker. He upheld this position from March 1990 to November 1992.

In 1993 Vytautas Landsbergis founded a new political party, which won the 1996 parliamentary elections. After winning the election, Landsbergis took up the position of Parliament Speaker of Lithuania again until 2000.

In 2004, Landsbergis was elected by Lithuanian voters to the European Parliament in Brussels.

In 2005, Professor Landsbergis urged a ban on the Soviet and Nazi symbols. He also sent a letter to Mr. Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner of Justice and Internal Affairs, where he suggested that in case the EU decides to ban Nazi symbols, Communist symbols should be banned too. Landsbergis’ initiative was opposed by the Italian left-wing representatives and the Russian parliament. On the other hand he also got many supporters, including – Alessandra Mussolini, a granddaughter of former Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini commented: “To implement the proposal of the Members of the European Parliament regarding Communist symbols is our moral duty”.

Finally, at the end of February 2005, the European Union dropped proposals to ban Nazi symbols across its 25 member states. However, members could not reach a consensus on which symbols to ban.

Professor Landsbergis is a fierce critic of Russia’s intentions to impose any kind of influence on the Baltic States and publicly questions Russia’s actions vis-à-vis the Baltic States on both local and international media, as well as in the European Parliament. He warns that Russia might have intentions to control Lithuania and the other Baltic States economically and politically through a wide network of former KGB agents and other clandestine activities. Vytautas Landsbergis is one of the most active politicians, who urge Russia to compensate Lithuania and other post-Soviet republics for damage done to them during their occupations.