Lithuania: The current political status of the Lithuanian Democratic Party and the Lithuanian National, an alleged socialist movement headed by Mindaugas Murza; whether the Lithuanian Nationalist Union unofficially supports the Lithuanian National; recent reports of Lithuanian Democratic Party members having political problems with the current government (2001-March 2002)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||21 March 2002|
|Citation / Document Symbol||LTU38745.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lithuania: The current political status of the Lithuanian Democratic Party and the Lithuanian National, an alleged socialist movement headed by Mindaugas Murza; whether the Lithuanian Nationalist Union unofficially supports the Lithuanian National; recent reports of Lithuanian Democratic Party members having political problems with the current government (2001-March 2002), 21 March 2002, LTU38745.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be654.html [accessed 19 December 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Originally founded in 1902, the Lithuanian Democratic Party was re-established in 1989 (United Kingdom Oct. 2001). Its headquarters are located at A Jaksto 9, Vilnius 2600 (ibid.). Chaired by Saulius Peceliunas in October 2001, the party had 2,000 members (ibid.).
On 20 October 2001, the Lithuanian Democratic Party, the Homeland People's Union, the Independence Party and the Lithuanian Freedom League, all described as right-wing, held a congress in Vilnius where they merged to create the Lithuanian Right Union (Baltic News Service 22 Oct. 2001). The congress also saw the election of Arunas Zebriunas, a famous film director under the Soviet regime, as the chair of the new party, along with the elections of deputy chairs and members of the council (ibid.). The membership of the new party is estimated at 2,000 members (ibid.). Promoting liberal economy and European integration, the party plans to participate in the next legislative elections slated for 2003 (ibid.). According to the Baltic News Service, none of these parties has significant influence on Lithuania's political scene (ibid.).
According to PoliSci.com, a political reference almanac developed by US-based Keynote Publishing Co., the Baltic News Service, the Lithuanian Democratic Party did not gain any seats in the last parliamentary elections held on 8 October 2000 (Apr. 2001). However, the Central Europe Review, citing data from the Lithuanian State Electoral Commission, reports the elections of nine candidates fielded by the party in the 19 March 2000 local elections, namely six in Kalvarija (southwestern Lithuania) and three in the region of Kelme (western Lithuania) (27 Mar. 2000).
A survey conducted between 24 and 31 August 2001 by the Baltijos Tyrimai (Baltic Surveys) market and public opinion research company, revealed that the Lithuanian Democratic Party enjoyed the support of 1 per cent of the respondents (Baltic News Service 11 Sept. 2001).
No mention of the Lithuanian National could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
No recent reports of Lithuanian Democratic Party members having political problems with the current government could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
In a 15 May 2001 dispatch, the Baltic News Agency describes Mindaugas Murza as the "ideological leader of the national socialists" and "recently self-proclaimed leader of the Logic of Life Party." After several unsuccessful attempts to register his "neo-nazi" National Socialist Party with the authorities, Mindaugas Murza joined the Logic of Life Party in December 2000 (UCSJ 27 Dec. 2000; BNS 1 May 2001). The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) adds that about 100 Lithuanian "national socialists" also enrolled in the party as requested by Mindaugas Murza (27 Dec. 2000). While the Baltic News Agency describes the party as "unknown and defunct" (1 May 2001) when Mindaugas Murza joined it, the UCSJ depicts it as "a legal – although not influential – party" (UCSJ 27 Dec. 2000).
On 15 May 2001, Mindaugas Murza was one of the leaders of a demonstration sanctioned by the Vilnius authorities held in front of the Lithuanian parliament by several "radical" political parties and organizations (BNS 15 May 2001). Gathered under the name Movement of Lithuanian Citizens, approximately 300 demonstrators adopted a resolution demanding the resignation of the government, the immediate end of the sale of companies of "vital national interests," the beginning of a state anti-corruption campaign and the abrogation of the statute of limitations on economic and other crimes perpetrated against the state (ibid.). Participants also agreed to start collecting signatures required to hold a referendum on the sale of land to foreigners (ibid.).
On 1 May 2001, members of the local branch of the Logic of Life Party, described as "right-wing nationalists," staged a demonstration in Siauliai (northern Lithuania) and celebrated May Day (ibid.). Sanctioned by the municipal authorities, the demonstration gathered between 100 and 200 participants, including Mindaugas Murza, the self-proclaimed leader of the Logic of Life Party and leaders of Vilnius, Kaunas and Siauliai branches (ibid.). Speakers demanded the nationalization of embezzled assets and the imprisonment of individuals guilty of embezzlement and of "state leaders who have ruined the country" (ibid.). The Baltic News Agency reported the presence of two police vehicles watching the demonstration (ibid.).
According to the Baltic News Agency, the authorities imposed a fine on Mindaugas Murza and another party leaders for organizing an unsanctioned protest in front of the Sauliai city premises in early April 2001 (1 May 2001).
Citing an editorial published in Lietuvos Rytas, a Lithuanian daily, the UCSJ makes reference to rallies on 31 January 2001 in Vilnius which gathered followers of Mindaugas Murza and Vytautas Sustauskas, the leader of the Lithuanian Freedom Union and a member of parliament (2 Feb. 2001). Both leaders reportedly threatened to carry out "terrorist attacks" against municipal assets (ibid.). During the rallies, copies of Respublikos Varpai, The Republican Party's newspaper with frequent references to the "'threat' posed by Jews and NATO," and of Lietuvos Patriotas published by Gailius Butkevicius, "a well known instigator of ethnic hatred," were distributed to participants (ibid.). According to Lietuvos Rytas, none of the participants were arrested (ibid.).
No information as to whether the Lithuanian Nationalist Union unofficially supports the Lithuanian National could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Baltic News Agency (BNS) [Tallinn, in English]. 15 May 2001. "Radicals Give Lithuanian PM a Month to Go of His own Volition." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0516 15 May 2001/WNC)
_____. 1 May 2001. "Right-Wing Nationalists Celebrate May Day in Northern Lithuanian Town." (FBIS-SOV-2001-0501 1 May 2001/WNC)
Baltic News Service. 22 October 2001. "4 Lithuanian Right Parties Merge." (NEXIS)
_____. 11 September 2001. "Lithuania's Ruling Sociodemocrats Lose Popularity – Poll (NEXIS)
Central Europe Review [Prague]. 27 March 2000. "Results of the 19 March 2000 Lithuanian Local Elections."
PoliSci.com [Arlington, Va.]. April 2001. "Lithuania."
Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) [Washington, DC]. 2 February 2001. "Lithuanian Newspaper Editorializes on Radical Antisemitic Parties."
_____. 27 December 2000. "Lithuanian Neo-Nazi Leader Joins Little Known Party."
United Kingdom, Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), Home Office. October 2001. Lithuania Country Assessment. Annex A Political Organisations.
[Accessed 20 Mar. 2002]
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites including:
The CIA World Factbook 2001
Human Rights Watch
The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) [London, UK]
The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) [Washington, DC]
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
The Jewish Agency for Israel [Jerusalem]
The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California [San Francisco]
Lithuanian Human Rights Association [Vilnius]
Project on Political Transformation and the Electoral Process in Post-Communist Europe
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) [Prague]
The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University
United Nations Development Programme in Lithuania
US Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
World News Connection (WNC)