Gintaras Visockas. Slaptai.lt foto

Tomorrow is February 16th. It is a very important holiday for Lithuania. During these days, in our press, on television, on radio, there are many comments about February 16, 1918. This day is given to history, to politics.

However, while welcoming the increased interest in history, I must admit that Lithuania is unfortunately not one of the countries where historical topics are examined very objectively, honestly. There are many silenced moments and biased approaches. There are even nagged historians in Lithuania, because instead of being silent, they draw unpleasant, uncomfortable facts in public.

So let me also say a word for the reflection on February 16th. Unfortunately, not very happy. It is common to have fun and be proud during the holidays. But why should I be overwhelmed with joy, if not so much of it is around?

We still do not have monographs on dushanskis, raslans and zimanas

(Jewish collaborators of the Soviet regime participating in the killing and deportation of Lithuanians – T.P. )

First of all, it is striking how Lithuania deals with topics that are unpleasant for the Jewish community. It simply does not. It is a taboo. Deadly silence. Everyone who mentions them is attacked, criticized and eventually falls. I agree, we must know the crimes of our bad guys. I do not dispute – all mistakes must be registered, described in detail. Lithuanian sins must not be hidden. However, pushing aside our historians or publicists interested in history of the country simply because they raise issues that are inconvenient not only for Lithuanians, but also for Jews, is that democratic?

Historian Valdas Rakutis did not say anything reprehensible, urging to look at the history of the Second World War from both sides. The only minor sin was that the call should not have been made on the Holocaust Day. But a democracy must tolerate such „sin.“ After all, in such cases, the most important thing is whether this is true: if we stubbornly condemn people who were at least somewhat related with fascist Germany, let us also register those who cooperated with the Kremlin regime.

Valdas Rakutis. Slaptai.lt nuotr.
Vidmantas Valiušaitis. Slaptai.lt foto

We are urged to honestly analyze our peoples’ biographies, to look through the magnifying glass at the slightest suspicion. Just why has the other side so far neither prepared nor has plans to prepare scientific monographs on, say, the crimes of the dushanskis, raslans, zimanas? What should we do if we record every one of our real or perceived sins and others hide their own sins? If that side relies on the KGB archives and accept them as true facts, why can’t we analyze what was written in the Lithuanian Archives during the years of German occupation?

Historian Arūnas Gumuliauskas proposed to adopt a resolution declaring that the Lithuanian nation is not the nation of Jewish killers. There was a real need for such a resolution. But he was silenced, claiming that no one blames the Lithuanian nation for this sin attributable to the fascist Germany. Is it true that no one reproaches, no one rebukes, no one condemns?

Vidmantas Valiušaitis, a publicist interested in history, has been expelled from the Lithuanian Center for Genocide and Resistance, in his books, articles and video comments presented the obvious facts about how our heroes Jonas Noreika and Kazys Škirpa are unjustifiably accused of sympathizing with fascist Germany.

What will fall next? Will it be Dalius Stancikas, an LCGR employee, who wrote the much-needed book „Hammering the history of Lithuania“? After all, he is not in a hurry to hang the labels of Jewish killers on Lithuanian characters of that time…

Belarusian accents

Another topic is Belarusian. The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is both praised and supported in our country. This is the right posture. It is not possible to beat the protesters in this way, as Alexander Lukashenka is doing. Lithuania must lend a helping hand to Belarusian protesters.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. EPA-ELTA foto.

But I have not heard that any of our journalists and politicians have publicly and openly asked that lady about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Astravec nuclear power plant. I am very interested to know what this lady thinks about the origin of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and whether she agrees that it is necessary to shut down the Astravec nuclear power plant as soon as possible? And if she even said that the origin of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was Lithuanian, even if she confirmed that „the Astravec NPP must be stopped because it threatens Vilnius“, is our intelligence certain that this lady does not speak the opposite during private conversations?

What do we know about Alexei Navalny?

The story of Alexei Navalny is similar. Of course, he is a brave man. Navalny’s documentaries, which tell how Russian intelligence poisoned him with „Novichok“, or that film about Vladimir Putin’s fabulous palace, are noteworthy and respectful.

Alexei Navalny. EPA – ELTA nuotr.

But my first concern is to find out what Navalny said when Russia invaded Georgia, Ukraine. If he really claimed that it would be worthwhile to throw those Georgians with cruise missiles, if he claimed this sincerely, without being forced by anyone, then there is a high probability that this man will want to throw cruise missiles on Lithuania. I hope that the Member of the Seimas Laurynas Kasčiūnas, who recently participated in the rally in support of A. Navalny in front of  the Russian Embassy, knows the answer to this question?

Curbing corruption in Russia is an important issue. But it is no less important to know that the heart of the tireless anti-corruption fighter is not trapped in the icebergs of imperial thinking.

When will the activities of ASALA be evaluated?

Here is an excerpt from the text of Rayat Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Gateston Institute (author of the book “The Sword and the Scythian: Fourteen Centuries between Islam and the West”), which prophesies that „as many as 340 million Christians in the world are being persecuted”. It says that in the present world, 13 Christians are killed, 5 Christians are abducted and 12 churches are attacked every day for their religious beliefs.

We need to know these sad statistics. But aren’t you missing a comparative analysis? Why is there no figure for how many people are killed every day in the world just because they are Muslims? I would then compare the anti-Muslim facts with the attacks on Christians and see the real situation. Now it seems that the blowing is only one way – only Muslims are hurting Christians, and the Christians have never hurt Muslims anywhere and are not going to hurt them.

ASALA

But this is not true. Let us remember the Crusades, the occupation of Algeria, the war against Afghanistan, the bombings of Iraq, the attacks on Muslims in the Balkans, the equated Chechen capital, Grozny.

Finally, let’s remember how many Turkish diplomats residing in Vienna, Madrid, Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen were killed by the Armenian terrorist organizations ASALA, Dasnakcutiun, Gncak in the European capitals from 1975 to 2002? There were 235 terror acts, 70 murder and 41 assault cases. 524 people were killed during these attacks, including 105 hostages.

Let’s recall how in the second half of 2020, the Armenian armed forces fired on the Azerbaijani cities of Bard, Gianja and Terter (69 civilian Azerbaijanis were killed and another 322 were injured in these attacks).

Are these figures included in reports of religious intolerance? Do we know that the infamous ASALA, who persecuted Turkish diplomats a few decades ago, sent a scary letter to a Turkish diplomat residing in Beirut (Lebanon) on January 1, 2019, and burned a Turkish flag near the embassy building (Turkish flags were burned in other countries as well, near the Turkish missions)? Do we know that on January 20, 2021, ASALA issued a statement that members of the organization are not barred from committing terror against the citizens of Azerbaijan and Turkey, who took back Nagorny Karabakh in the end of 2020?

Try to publish these facts in the Lithuanian media, and you will see that it is not so simple. It is allowed to criticize Muslims – as much as the heart desires, but not to blame Christians! Although, for example, the international community recognizes that Nagorny Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan. However, Lithuania did not congratulate Azerbaijan, which recovered the lands lost decades ago due to the Armenian aggression, including those seven neighboring districts that had nothing to do with Nagorny Karabakh. Also it did not congratulate Turkey, which helped the Azerbaijanis to regain what belongs to Azerbaijan according to the international law. After all, this is an important, significant event.

What is hidden in the Armenian archives?

Find the text of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) published by LRT – a conversation between Harry Tamraziano, Director of the RL Armenian Service, and Thom de Waalu, a Caucasus expert at “Carnegie Europe”. There is not the slightest hint that, under international law, Nagorny Karabakh is an indisputable territory of Azerbaijan. When this fact is silenced, all other discussions are meaningless. At least that’s what it seems to me.

Remember how the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences did not allow historians invited by the Turkish Embassy to present their position on the tragic 1915s, and opened doors for guests invited by the Armenian Embassy? That is why we do not know that the US Ambassador Henri Morgentau, who resided in Istanbul in 1913-1916, for a total of 780 days, wrote a report extremely unfavorable to the Turks, entitled „The Tragedy of the Armenian People“, grossly distorted the facts. During his residence in the Ottoman Empire, he did not leave Istanbul in order to visit any problematic region – he limited himself to leisure, recreational trips around the then Ottoman Empire. Therefore, his report cannot be regarded as objective.

But there is another reason why his reports should not be considered objective. The translator, an adviser, considered his right-hand was Arshag Simavonian, helped him write this report. And his secretary was Acopus Andonian. What matters is not that both the adviser and the secretary were Armenians. It is important that both these Armenians hated the Turks and everything Turkish. They were therefore grossly biased.

Turkish flag

And what about Johannes Lepsius’ work „Germany and Armenia 1914 – 1918. Collection of Diplomatic Mail“? Is it worth  to trust it blindly? This person is known to have been blindly pro-Armenian and pathologically hated the Turks. He did not include in his mail, for example, reports from Lois Mozel, a special Caesar agent, and Felix Gus, officer, informing that Armenian armed formations befriended the enemy of the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia, receiving weapons from Russian Tsar, and coordinating their attacks against the Turks with the Russians.

There are a lot of such tendentious defaults and distortions. But Lithuania does not want to know them. Avoiding even mentioning that in 2005 it was Turkey that proposed Armenia to convene a joint commission of historians to investigate all the causes and consequences of the 1915 tragedy. Official Yerevan – categorically refused. Apparently, there are fears that a lot of unpleasant facts will come to the surface.

Donald Trump and censorship

So Lithuania is still a long way from a real democracy. There are many forbidden, ignored, and silent topics.

The only consolation is that not only Lithuania is in difficulty. On the Delfi.lt portal, I read an interesting article by Vidas Rachlevičius „The Big Break: the End of the American Dream“. I will admit: I never liked Donald Trump. Especially when he pandered Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Trump’s accusations of rigged elections were also unconvincing. I also remember an interview published on the gordonua.com portal with Yuri Schwec, a former KGB employee who had left for America a long time ago, who claimed that the Russian special services had been eyeing Trump for a long time.

Donald Trump

And still, Trump’s accounts on social networks should not be blocked. Let us argue with him, criticize him, unmask him, but let us not restrict his right to freedom of expression.

I agree with V. Rachlevičius, who believes that blocking D. Trump’s accounts is an anti-democratic step. I agree with V. Rachlevičius that real democracy and human rights start with freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is inviolable and unquestionable in any form. Freedom of speech – without any „provided“, „if“, „but“.

Freedom of speech either exists or does not exist.

2021.02.15; 00:30

Gintaras Visockas. Slaptai.lt foto

Today I would like to ask: what is journalism worth if it does not seek the truth? What are photo reports worth if their authors are not interested in justice? This journalistic activity is not only useless, it is dangerous. It can lead you down the wrong path: oppose countries, cause new military clashes, hurt a victim, provoke the aggressor to perform new attacks …

Is this path justified?

I do agree: sometimes it is difficult to find the truth, sometimes it is unsightly. But if one does not consciously strive for it, and even is proud of this – such a person is difficult for me to understand.

This bewilderment is addressed to the photojournalist Vidmantas Balkunas, who published “Letters from Nagorno-Karabakh” on the website delfi.lt. On his page on the social network, this journalist, who has traveled a lot around the world and published valuable pictures, writes: “Perhaps that is why I never try to find out which side is right and which is not. And more often than not, there is no right answer. It is important for me to show how people who have fallen into this whirlpool live (…). Geopolitics is definitely not my sphere. (…) And therefore, it is difficult for me to understand people who, being thousands of kilometers from the war, broadcast their truth and explain who is right and who is wrong. “ This is how V. Balkunas philosophizes in social networks. And this is his right, his will. Moreover, V. Balkunas is really courageous – it is dangerous in Nagorno-Karabakh in nowadays.

Vidmantas Balkunas, who published “Letters from Nagorno-Karabakh”

But what is this courage for? It is illegal to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia and with an Armenian visa. Moreover, it is illegal from any point of view – Lithuania, the EU, NATO, the UN. International community considers Nagorno-Karabakh to be the territory of Azerbaijan. Even Armenia does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as its own territory. Therefore, every educated journalist must understand that if he wants to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh, he must obtain an Azerbaijani visa. If you are flying to Armenia, of course, you do not need an Azerbaijani visa. But if you go to Nagorno-Karabakh, you must get an Azerbaijani stamp in your passport, despite all the assurances of the Armenians that Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian territory.

By the way, Azerbaijan would hardly bless V. Balkunas’s trip to the Black Garden (this is how the name “Karabakh” is translated into Russian). Because if official Baku approved this visit, the journalist would most likely not have been admitted by Armenia, which controls Nagorno-Karabakh. Figuratively speaking, they would consider him a spy of Azerbaijan.

This is an important fact. In my opinion, if we do not follow the rules that secure respect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan (including Nagorno-Karabakh), real chaos may ensue, because there will be states that disregard, for example, the fact that Vilnius or Klaipeda regions belongs to Lithuania. Does Lithuania have the right to condemn Western and Russian singers, journalists, politicians who illegally, without the consent of Kiev, Chisinau or Tbilisi, travel to the occupied Crimea, Transnistria or South Abkhazia? We have our own „travelers“ who do not know what respect for international rules that have legalized the borders between states is.

Guilt of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania

The fact that there are strange „tourists“ in Lithuania is a huge fault of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, which until now officially, publicly, has not clearly stated that it is not recommended to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh with an Armenian visa. It is impossible to prohibit Lithuanian citizens from traveling to Nagorno-Karabakh from Yerevan, and not from Baku. But they must be warned. And it was necessary to do so as soon as the first shots thundered. After all, it could have been predicted that Armenian ambassador Tigran Mkrtchyan, residing in Lithuania, would feverishly seek curious people who would agree to visit suffering Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Our parliamentary Committee on International Affairs, and the leaders of parliamentary friendship groups with Armenia and Azerbaijan, and, ultimately, Lithuanian journalists’ organizations, could have explained to Lithuanian citizens why it is undesirable to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh with the blessing of Armenia. No bans, no threats – just a warning: it is not recommended. By the way, my conscience is clear: back in 2014 in my articles on the slaptai.lt. I urged not to send Lithuanians to Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenian side.

If you ask who gave me the right to reproach brave journalists who travel to hot spots, I will answer: I have such a right. I have been working as a journalist for over 35 years and have seen some violent conflicts with my own eyes. Russian-Chechen, Ossetian-Ingush, Georgian-Abkhaz clashes – I saw all this and wrote about all this. But unlike V. Balkunas, I was worried first of all who was right, and not who was louder and more convincingly shouting.

I also cannot be silent, because I am well aware of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict – I have been interested in this topic for more than ten years. I cannot boast that I traveled far and wide across Azerbaijan, but I happened to be in the Khojavend, Terter, Barda regions and witnessed how Azerbaijanis who suffered from the Armenian shelling and who lost their loved ones live there. Most of all, I was shocked by a trip in 2016 to the Terter region – the villages of Gasangaya, Gapanly, Maraga, Shikar, which were subjected to increased artillery shelling. I saw ruined houses there, crippled children, women weeping at graves. I was in Ganja, which recently came under an artillery attack by the Armenians. I can give my head to be cut off – both Armenian and Azerbaijani women have equally clear tears. To make sure that everyone has red blood – both Armenians and Azerbaijanis – it is not necessary to go somewhere.

How many Azerbaijanis live in Yerevan?

Still, the difference between the shelling of Ganja and Nagorno-Karabakh is obvious. Azerbaijan is living in their homes in Ganja, Terter, Hasangay, according to international law, live in their own state – in Azerbaijan. And the Armenians who settled in Nagorno-Karabakh do not live in Armenia. They are located on the territory belonging to Azerbaijan. If they are law-abiding citizens, they should obey Baku.

The opponents of the author of these lines, of course, will argue with foam at the mouth that ethnic Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh and that there are no Azerbaijanis there. And it is true. But a journalist who is looking not only for impressive shots, but also for the truth, should ask a question:  where did all the Azerbaijanis who lived in Nagorno-Karabakh a few decades ago go? Did they leave of their own will, or were they cynically expelled?

Other inconvenient questions can be asked. For example, where did the Azerbaijani community that lived a hundred years ago in Yerevan disappear? Azerbaijanis in those days constituted the majority in Yerevan – they made about 75% of dwellers. One should be a fool to deny this statistical fact. There is not a single Azerbaijani in Yerevan today. Did they all leave the city of their own free will?

The lesson of Javakheti

And lastly, why does the large Armenian diaspora living in one of the regions of Georgia, Javakhetia, prove today (visit the Armenian portal armenianreport.com) that this is not a Georgian territory, but an Armenian one and therefore, you see, they need to secede from Georgia and create an independent state?! In Javakhetia a tactic, similar to the one that was tested in Nagorno-Karabakh, is used: they oust the locals, then they begin to propagandize the ideas of separatism more and more loudly and blackmail the Georgian authorities harder: if you do not support Yerevan, you will be punished – you will lose Javakheti.

If a Lithuanian journalist got into Nagorno-Karabakh, he should be worried about all the issues. For example, to what extent do American, French, Russian Armenians help the Armenians to fight the Azerbaijanis? It is obvious that Armenia with its three million population (three times less than in Azerbaijan) lacks soldiers. The fact that Armenian militants of all kinds helped the Armenians to attack Azerbaijan earlier (for example, a certain Monte Melkonyan once arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh from Lebanon; later he died), is not a secret to anyone, this information is accessible to those who looking for answers to all, even uncomfortable questions.

French smoke screen

And the tales that Turkey sends fighters, subordinate to Ankara and Istanbul, from Syria, Lebanon, Kurdish settlements to Azerbaijan to fight the Armenians are complete nonsense. I received this information from Ambassador of Turkey Gokhan Turan, whose residence is in Lithuania. And, by the way, his words sound quite convincing. Azerbaijan really has enough of its own soldiers to conflict with Armenia. If there was China instead of Armenia, then one would believe that Azerbaijan has too few defenders. But is not the case.

Ambassador of  Turkey Gokhan Turan. Slaptai.lt foto

Allegations that all sorts of militants controlled by Turkey are helping Azerbaijanis to offend Christian Armenians are a smokescreen that Yerevan needs to cover up its swindle.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron, who is entangled in Armenian intrigues, needs it today. A large, extremely influential Armenian community lives in France, which the French authorities cannot control. Yerevan via France (and not only via it) is recruiting fighters for the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh front. If everything that the French authorities turned a blind eye to will surface, the French president with his French intelligence and advisers would find himself in an unenviable position. So, the best defense is offense. Therefore, the French authorities began to blame others for what they themselves were to be blamed.

Official Paris makes a gigantic mistake – sooner or later the truth will surface and face the light.

I address these remarks to those who are not satisfied by sensational photographs alone, to those who are looking for the truth.

2020.10.22; 12:00

Gintaras Visockas, author of this commentary. Slaptai.lt photo

Unwillingness to talk and unwillingness to bargain are really bad tactics, yet the idea of talking only to talk is even worse. Instead of searching for means to make Lithuania a country where Lithuanians could live a comfortable and meaningful life, we often act selfishly and care more about self-promotion instead of interests of the country.

What do I have in mind? A public campaign was announced to help envision a better future for Lithuania. Sure, it’s cute, andmeaningful. But how do we really use this opportunity for a serious debate over Lithuania’s future? Frankly speaking, I’m amazed of so many superficial and primitive ravings.

For example, producer and musician Stanislovas Stavickis – Stano suggested (delfi.lt) regular dinners of tolerance where deadly opponents would sit at one table. Imagine globalists and nationalists, the rich and the poor, bailiffs and debtors discussing sincerely at such table… It might be a good idea, but where is an explanation on how this idea should be implemented? There is no dictatorship in Lithuania. How to place a wolf and a lamb at the same table under democratic conditions? What will they talk about? Will the predator feel sorry for the pray? Will the lamb admit wolf’s need to eat? Do they want another TV show that leads nowhere as it was with Rūta Janutienė’s show “Nuoga tiesa” (Naked Truth) with so much ruckus and so little rationality?

Sure, musician’s idea is nice. I agree that “inability to hear one another is a painful problem in Lithuania”. However, can the musician explain, how this should be implemented in real life? For example, how to find a common language with writer and poet Sigitas Parulskis, who contemplatedin lrytas.lt that if a magnificent Vytis would be erected in Lukiškės Square, it would remind him of… a soviet tank?

Leader of the Conservative Party Gabrielius Landsbergis, after visiting Lithuanians who live in London, said that “without a broad consensus there will be no reforms”. A correct observation. However, if you don’t know how to reach this “broad consensus”, what is the purpose then of these senseless talks? A common sense suggests, that there will be no consensus at all, neither narrow, nor broad. Neither on foreign, nor internal political matters. Why haven’t you reached an agreement with Greens, Social Democrats or Liberals? As usual, some of them will cry that Russia is a threat to Lithuania, others will not see it as a threat. Some of them will try to prove that it is necessary to allocate 2% of GDP to National Defense, others will say that this is money down the drain. Some of them will shout that Mindaugas Bastys, despite his overfriendliness with Russian representatives, is a true patriot, others will see him as a traitor…

We can console ourselves, that Sweden argued forlong 8 years over pension reform until itfinally reached an agreement – now their pensioners are happy, respectable an have plenty of food. We can console ourselves, that Denmark created its tax system not outright. The system enforces the rich to pay more taxes to the national budget than those that are paid minimum. Lithuania, however, cannot reach an agreement over pension or other important reforms for more than twenty years already and a consensus seems unlikely. As if we are descendants from different galaxies. As if we have no common goals. As if the sole our purpose is to ruin as many lives of our own people as possible.

Gabrielius Landsbergis states that “Lithuania needs a tax systemwhich would encourage people to work and which would help them to earn for living”. I agree. Yet how can this beachievedby current Seimas of Lithuania, where the majority is (as if by purpose) not interested in decreasing social exclusion or introducing more fair taxes. I doubt that Seimas would form a real majority soonwhich would be concerned about Lithuania’s decline. Maybe the leader of the Conservative Party expects to adjust tax system properly during the current term of office? If I was the biggest optimist, I wouldn’t be so sure of it.

Another conservator Žygimantas Pavilionis proposes that only dual citizenship would help to retain Lithuanian emigrants, whereas philosopher Arvydas Juozaitis claims that dual citizenship would encourage emigration even further and would lead Lithuania to decline. The former Lithuanian ambassador in the US is wrong and the philosopher is right – dual citizenship will not stop this decline. It is a known truth that Lithuanians living abroad lose their national pride very quickly. Lithuanians are prone to assimilations. Lithuanians more willingly adapt to foreign rules than make others adapt to Lithuanian order.

When the Constitutional Court of Lithuania explained that dual citizenship is impossible, Lithuanian television showed several videos. Their makers tried to show that Lithuanian emigrants are superior to those staying in Lithuania. Do the makers of such shows not understand that in such way disunited Lithuanians are played off against each othereven further?

One element of this play off is already poisoning our hearts: those who left Lithuania would like to have a dual citizenship, yet what benefits will get those who remained? I don’t want dual citizenship. I don’t need dual citizenship. While writing these remarks I’m trying to show the wish of emigrants to get dual citizenship as an egotistical absurd. If Lithuania would allow dual citizenship on a massive scale, maybe it would also be acceptable to have two wives or two consciences? Let’s face it- if dual things are allowed, soon it will be allowed triple or quadruple notions and moral norms. Do we want more chaos? Dual citizenship will not save Lithuanians from assimilation. Dual citizenship will not decrease losses of Lithuanian nation.

Senior economist of “Luminor” bank Žygimantas Mauricas states that “those who want to live honestly, to pay taxes and create value are backed into a corner and forced to become criminals against their will”. We know that already. Why, though, the economist does not write a treatise on what to do that honest people wouldn’t be backed into a corner?

A number of great ideas are introduced in Lithuania – let’s build a stadium, let’s care for children, let’s put together a new commission that would analyze matters of migrations, let’s create high-principled and honest courts, let’s denounce those who avoid paying taxes, let’s elect members of Seimas that are resistant to corruption, let’s dismiss officials and bureaucrats who cannot do their jobs without instructions, let’s grant a 3-month amnesty to fraudsters and then let’s open a brand new page…

But what is the real value of these suggestions? Without knowledge how to implement them they are useless. Personally, I still haven’t found a single, consistent and smart explanation on how these great ideas are going to be uphold in a country still called Lithuania.

2017.10.10; 04:48

Slaptai.lt presents a very interesting article by Parliament member Arvydas Anušauskas (who is also member of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defense). The article is titled “Twisted Footprints in Daugai: Among Russian Deputies of the State Duma, Oligarchs, Diplomats, Federal Security Agents and Soldiers”.

Lakes of Dzūkija. Foto – Vytautas Visockas (Slaptai.lt).

The afore mentioned analysis was published in the second half of 2016 at author’s homepage www.arvydasanusauskas.lt, yet the article holds important information to this day. The analysis raises a question – what methods does Russia employ trying to spread its roots in our country: does Russia disguise it with sports, economic investments or Armenian refugees?

Interestingly enough, this article has not yet been analyzed or discussed in greater detail.

2017.06.24

XXX

Arvydas Anušauskas

Twisted Footprints in Daugai: Among Russian Deputies of the State Duma, Oligarchs, Diplomats, Federal Security Agents and Soldiers

A New Tradition in Daugai.

It is known, that 15ha land by the Lake Didžiulis in Daugai, including structures, has been property of private local business till 2013.

However, in 2013, all shares of that local business were sold to “Daugų sala”, company registered in Alytus. According to the data of the Centre of Registers, the company was founded in summer 2012. Later, some information appeared in the press, that officially the business was acquired by some company registered in Lithuania, but the real owners were Muscovites, whose activities included constructions, “gold trade” and many other things. In Daugai they planned investing into a very specific area – field hockey. The press was told that they plan building some hotels and few hockey fields. Yet looking over some of the publicly available documents some questions remain unanswered. Why a group of Muscovites acquired such local business in the beginning of 2013, and did the buyers have enough financial resources?

The second question: if the buyers had no money – who and why provided it to them?

The last question is a tricky one: what is a relation between the buyers and the fund of member ofthe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation?

Interestingly enough, public limited company “Tradition-L”, which was registered in Moscow on October 22, 2012, in just a month, on November 27, acquired 90 percent of “Daugų sala“ shares from one person in Alytus. On January 11, 2013, “Tradition-L” buys the company that ownedaforementioned real estate in Daugai. It is possible that this company was connected to family of one active Lithuanian Social Democrat.

The operation of acquisition was instant – only 80 days since the appearance of the company in Moscow.

The majority shareholder of “Tradition-L” was entrepreneur Ara Ginosyan, who had one third of company’s shares. Other business partners shared smaller holdings, 6.67 percent each. Do not be fooled – the starting capital of the company was only 30,000 rubles, thus majority share holder’s share was of 1000 litas value at that time. It could not be otherwise – company’s office was in remote suburbs of Moscow, where the same commercial building was shared by many small businesses and only neighbors were logistics centers.

Interestingly, “Tradition-L” activities in Moscow was not well known. According to trade-rent indicators, it placed 2750th in a list of similar companies. How could the company have 2 million litas in its balance for all those purchases (according to daily newspaper “Verslo žinios”, Armenian shareholders invested 600,000 Euro or about 2.07 million litas)? Why one of the “Tradition-L” shareholders Grach Petrosyan (with a holding of few hundred litas of shares) was responsible for this purchase? It was noted, that company’s shareholders could engage in various other activities, however, renting apartments for Armenian laborers (and some bakery business shares) was its only profitable activity. Grach Petrosyan’s company “Urartu”, with initial capital of 10,000 rubles (about 1,000 litas), could engage in “whole sale trade in gold and other precious metals”, as well asin “wholesale trade in gems”, yet its sole declared activity was constructions. In fact, these alleged constructions could not be found, as the company was liquidated in summer 2013. It could not be the other way – company’s office was in Dmitrov town, Moscow Oblast, where the same commercial building was shared by many small businesses.

Namely Grach Petrosyan becomes the main “player” at Daugai. In 2013 he founds Daugai field hockey club “Nansen club” and becomes its president. The club instantly joins Lithuanian business club in Moscow (alongside “Vičiūnai”, “Rūta” and other large manufacturers) when in reality there were no actual “business”. “Nansen club” was titled“a unique sports center” where international “lifeguard teams” would be trained. Firstly, in October 2013, the idea was to establish an international school of lifeguards where divers and land lifeguards could be trained. It was planned that lifeguards and field hockey players would get 3 houses for 20 people each in this recreational base. On August 1, 2015, Grach Petrosyan introduced his plans: the club will train “leaders” among the youth from CIS member states. According to him: “all unconventional games in this club are dedicated for one goal – training all-rounded youth “whoare not afraid to take responsibility and who can become full-time lifeguards”. The club prioritizes meeting of young people from different countries who could later become “an international lifeguard team”. In 2015 Petrosyan announced, that he will build one more training base dedicated to working in extreme conditions. Medical training will be part of the education: two or three times a month pupils will visit medicine institute and morgue, they will learn how to sew wounds and how to treat broken or severed limbs (meanwhile, an assembled team of amateur field hockey players takes the third place in B division of Lithuanian Championship).

Member of Lithuanian parliament Arvydas Anušauskas. Slaptai.lt foto

Interestingly, instead of Grach Petrosyan, his twin brother Grant Petrosyan is the real field hockey specialist – an honored field hockey coach in Armenia and former coach of Armenian women field hockey national team. In 1994 he came to Novosibirsk where he had a small business. Instead of caring for the future of field hockey in Daugai, Grant Petrosyan tried to revive this sport in his hometown Gyumri (former Leninakan, which was destroyed during an earthquake in 1988). From 2010 he supported Gyumri youth field goal team. Since 2007 he had an idea of building “Sport-City” complex in his hometown that would include 35 different sport attractions. Yet his ideas during the years 2007-2012 were not interesting to anybody. All suddenly changed in the end of 2012 when Russia became interested in possibilities to spread its influence in Armenia and Lithuania.

From FSB Novosibirsk towards Karelin.

After 2012 elections, Lithuania started preparing for the presidency of the Council of the EU. Starting from January 2013, it was going to be an important member of the trio. Armenia had its presidential elections coming in February 2013, and it had to choose between the Eurasian Customs Union andthe EU Association Agreement. It is obvious, that due to an old tradition, Russian Federal Security Service had its influence in these foreign politics. One of the strongest directorates of Russian FSB always was in Novosibirsk where FSB had its own school and many supervised academic centers. Almost 40 thousand Armenians lived in Novosibirsk. Part of FSB activities were associated with these Armenians to keep Armenia under Russia’s influence. Many leaders made their careers in this FSB directorate as it was an important knot between Europe and Asia – there were always some work to do. Chekists from Novosibirsk were usuallygiven a job in Moscow: FSB Colonel General Yevgeniy Sysoyev, Head of FSB Novosibirsk Regional Directorate 2009-2011, left to Moscow and was later appointed Deputy Director of Russia’s FSB and Head of the National Antiterrorism Committee. General Lieutenant Viktor Ivanovich Batukin, the next Head of FSB Novosibirsk Regional Directorate, was also summoned to Moscow and Sergei Boiko took his place in April 15, 2013.

We can only guess, that FSB Novosibirsk Regional Directorate knew about business activities of Petrosyan twins in Moscow and Novosibirsk and that one of them was trying to implement his projects in his Armenian hometown where Russian military base was located. Grant Petrosyan’s Gyumri “Sport-City” project was remembered and the Russian government promised its financial support. Maybe in return he had to do a favor – to acquire essentially useless real estate in Lithuania? Or maybe one of the brothers had to establish Nansen club where “lifeguards” would be trained (and which later would agitate for giving refugees and non-citizens so called “Nansen passports”) and had to join Lithuanian business club in Moscow? Maybe another brother had to contribute with a positive influence among Armenian diaspora in Novosibirsk and Gyumri? Maybe all these questions are retorical? Maybe all of this is just a conspiracy theory?

Was it a coincidence, that just after the successful transaction in Lithuania, on February 12, 2013, there was a meeting between Grant Petrosyan (brother of Grach Petrosyan), businessman from Novosibirsk Artur Movsesyan and members of “Karelin-Fund” belonging to Aleksandr Karelin (politician, athlete, member of State Duma’s International Affairs Committee).

One of the members ofthis initiative group was Ruben Tatulian, businessman from Sochi, who build Karelin’s sports center for training Russian national teams. According to Grant Petrosyan, the construction was needed not only to improve social situation but also for family members of Russian soldiers who wanted to be involved in sports.

It was known from the beginning, that Aleksandr Karelin, representative of the Novosibirsk Oblast in Russian State Duma, plans investing in sports complex “Sport-City” in Gyumri, Armenia (“Sport-City” was planned as a town with 1500 workplaces). Grant Petrosyan treated A. Karelin as a close friend (in 2008 he attended anniversary of “Karelin-Fund”, later, however, he claimed, that his meeting with Aleksandr Karelin  to discuss “Sport-City” matters was arranged by Mnac Iskandaryan, Olympic champion of 1992, working as couch in Novosibirsk).

As the 102nd Military Base in Gyumri was the main Russian base in Armenia, Grant Petrosyan claimed: “we expect Russia to pay for skating rink and swimming pool, because Russians still live in Gyumri”. But why he missed the fact, while searching for investors in Novosibirsk, that his brother invested 25 million rubles (at contemporary rate) in “sports complex” in Lithuania? One piece of information from Grant Petrosyan’s lips tells us that he perfectly knew about those plans; and negotiations on “Sport-City” construction took place not only in Novosibirsk, Moscow and Yerevan, but also in Lithuania. It is not clear with whom and how, however, it came to agreement that “Karelin-Fund” will build closed swimming pool and ice skating rink. It was officially announced, that A. Karelin was influenced by fact that thousands of soldiers are stationed in the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri and together with their family members it makes over 10 percent of city residents.

On March 6, 2013, a project was introduced and the office of “Gyumri-City” fund was opened to coordinate the project further. Grant Petrosyan and Russia’s Consul General Vasiliy Korchmar also attended the presentation. No one asked a question, why a construction project of year 2007 was abandoned for 5-6 years? According to Russia’s Consul, he met with Grant Petrosyan many times before and discussed questions related to obligations from Russia’s side. The total estimated budget was 25 million dollars. President of the fund Ara Abramyan announced, that Russian businessmen and prominent sports funds came to an agreement. Sport-City Facebook page appeared on the same day.

Shadows of Russian Parliament Member.

“Karelin-Fund” was a perfect solution for opaque financial support, because it constantly was under surveillance of Russian law enforcement and FSB (favor in exchange of favor). Founders of the fund had a financial group. „Accept“ bank was also partially controlled by one of the cofounders. A story below confirms this claim. In 2012, Vladimir Gorohov (former Karelin’s assistant, who later became deputy of Regional Parliament) addressed to Russian Ministry of Finance and later, in December 2013, to General Prosecutor of Russia with a request to investigate the corporate raid on “Mashkomplekt” (logistics complex of 1 billion rubles value) initiated by members and cofoundersof „Karelin-Fund“. However, since February-July 2013, tax inspectors refused investigating this incident. Meanwhile, corporate raiding in Russia is “one of the most profitable and corrupt criminal activities. It cannot exist without corruption and without support of the government”.

On January 31, 2016, another article was published, where aforementioned businessman from Novosibirsk revealed Aleksandr Karelin’s business structure. As a deputy A. Karelin could not directly manage his business so he did it through mediators: Yuri Sereda and Yuri Tokarev who at the same time where cofounders of “Karelin-Fund”.

Even though activities of A. Karelin and cofounders of his fund were under surveillance, he did not lose trust of Vladimir Putin. Since 2001 A. Karelin was a member of Upper House of Federation Council (as a representative of United Russia political party). In August 14, 2013, he received fromthe presidentan honorary award for promoting sports, even though at that time he belonged to State Duma’s International Affairs Committee. Another interesting fact from his biography is that in 1999 Aleksandr Karelin was Sports Adviser for Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin (1994-1995 Head of FSB) and it is assumed, that he helped Boris Ivaniuzhenkov to become Minister of Sports, who was formerly known as a member of organized crime group “Rotan”.

A. Karelin retained V. Putin’s trust, even then Viktor Golubev, godfather of Karelin’s children,board member of his fund, president of “Crystal” sports holding and the man who built sport related objects in Berdsk and Iskitim was arrested, because hehad a small illegal oil refinery that earned him 270 million rubles. FSB also accused V. Golubev of money laundering (over 100 million rubles) through “Accept” bank which belonged to another cofounder of “Karelin-Fund”. A. Karelin was still in favor of the president. On December 28, 2015, he visited military airport near Latakia and together with Colonel General and Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev greeted Russian soldiers in Syria.

Sport-City near Gyumri Military Base.

Finally, Gyumri city provided 12.5 ha of land for free. Since that day Grant Petrosyan became an active supporter of Russian and Armenian relationship and he often emphasized the close collaboration between Russian and Gyumri as there was the 102th military base located in the city. Moreover, the FSB Directorate in Russian military base in Gyumri monitors military personnel and their environment. And very little happens in that environment without their knowledge.

On December 2, 2013, President of Russia Vladimir Putin visited Gyumri military base. He was satisfied, that Armenia finally terminated all negotiations with the European Union on increasing gas import. Meanwhile in Lithuania the last “crusades” were initiated against liquid gas terminal construction and energy independence… Who do you think were initiators of these crusades?

Source – www.arvydasanusauskas.lt

2016-09-14