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LABAS: The Lithuanian E-Zine

Volumn 1 (Issue 4)
Editor: Bernard Tiva
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Table of Contents

1. The Baltics - Russia's Floormat?
2. Pro Soviet Activist Faces Banishment From Lithuania
3. How Far Will She Go?
4. Lithuania is Not an Exotic Place
5. The Man From Red October (Part Three)
6. The Brave Robin Hood Back In Lithuania
7. Female Readers Offered the Lithuanian Version of Cosmopolitan
8. British Airways Offers Flights to Lithuania
9. A Plea for Help
10. Greetings From Faraway Tasmania
11. Liberty County Cemetery
12. Sports

Lithuanians Helping Lithuanians

The first article has, seemingly, nothing to do with Lithuania, but you may think otherwise after you read the next article.

Original Sender:
Juris Zagrins
Subject: The Baltic: Russia's Floor Mat?
The following text was entrusted to me by a friend in Riga, to disseminate as widely as possible. I myself translated it from the Latvian, with some help from friends on the SVEIKS mailing list.
Juris Zagarins

The Baltics: Russian's Floormat?

Once more the Kremlin treads on the Baltics and wipes its filthy boots. Literally. How else could one describe the latest shameless attacks on Latvia? Not that they are unprecedented, of course. Such attacks have been practiced by each successive tenant of the Kremlin, from Lenin and Stalin through Khruschev, Brezhnev and Gorbachov. How sad that this long tradition is now being carried on by a so-called "democrat", Boris Yeltsin.

What's most reprehensible about the current situation is that Western nations have been looking on and keeping their silence and even -- voicing support for the Kremlin as it brutalizes Latvia. One gets the impression of an ongoing political rape, with eyewitnesses advising the victim not to cry out aloud.

It is absolutely shocking that the position of the Kremlin has been indirectly supported by France, Germany and even Sweden.

Lately, there has been much discussion in the world's news media to the effect that Latvia supposedly discriminates against the interests of its Russian residents, that the Latvian government supposedly sanctioned demonstrations to honor the Nazis who occupied Latvia in World War II, and that Latvia is ravaged by antisemitism.

These are lies! Lies actively disseminated by Western news media and uncritically accepted by Western government spokesmen.

In almost all instances, Western government spokesmen have been too lazy to take the trouble to check the facts. The truth is that all these assertions originate from the huge propaganda apparatus of the former Soviet Union, still controlled by Russia, and with little connection to facts at all.

These lies can be dismissed by inspection.

1. The first and most damaging of Russia's lies is that Latvians discriminate against Russians in the matter of citizenship. Not true!

Human rights commissions over the years have certified that Latvia's citizenship laws are entirely fair and proper. In fact, the parliament of Latvia has lately been in the process of relaxing these citizenship laws. It has been a delicate process, because the citizens of Latvia are well aware that the majority of those residents who do not speak the Latvian language were placed there under the official Soviet policy of russifying Latvia. The government of Latvia had only just arrived at a compromise between its present citizens and its potential future citizens. The government of Russia, with its brutal accusations has now completely demolished this painstakingly achieved balance.

2. The second big lie is that Latvian police are brutalizing nonviolent Russian protesters. Not true!

The instance so loudly denounced by the Russian government was not a demonstration against the state, but simply a protest by pensioners against the high cost of social services. It is a matter of record that the government of Latvia pays pensions to all retired people regardless of national origin and regardless of citizenship. In the specific instance in question, the demonstrators had not obtained prior permission to block traffic on a main traffic artery of the city, and when they refused to clear the street, the police pushed them back. In no city in the world are the police known for being especially gentle, but it is significant that after this police action, not a single demonstrator even claimed to have sought medical attention.

3. The third big lie is that Latvian government officials honor the German Nazi occupation. An absolute lie!

What happened in Riga was an occasion to honor the 60,000 Latvian servicemen who were illegally conscripted by the Germans and who died on the Eastern front during World War II. They were forcibly conscripted, and anyone who did not comply was doomed to fight for survival in the forests or to rot away in a concentration camp. In essence, the Germans used the conscripted Latvians as cannon fodder. They were victims of the war just as much as those whom the Germans exterminated in their gas chambers. Representatives of the Latvian armed forces honored their countrymen, who had gone to waste in an immoral war brought onto the world by the arch villains of the twentieth century - Hitler and Stalin. The stigma of the SS emblem was conferred on the Latvian soldiers by their German masters as a cynical ploy. According to Nazi laws at the time, non-Germans were not allowed to serve in the German army. To circumvent their own laws, the Nazis created SS units for conscripted foreigners, which is the only reason why Latvians wore the SS insignia. Immediately after the war, the occupying allies recognized the Latvian SS as a distinct and separate entity from the true criminals of the German SS divisions.

4. The last but not the least of the big lies is that Latvia is ravaged by anti-Semitism. Untrue!

Latvia has never in all its history been afflicted by anti-Semitism. Nazi and Soviet occupiers have repeatedly tried to instigate anti-Semitism, but only with scant success. Now, unfortunately, we are beset again by forces that try to inflame anti-Semitism in order to destabilize the political situation. There are already shelves of books on this topic, but one might still ask -can we speak of anti-Semitism in a nation where a couple of years ago the people chose a Jew as the most popular man in the country? Personally, I am hard put to cite examples that refute anti-Semitism for the simple reason that I do not know very many Jews. And the only reason I do not know them is that in Latvia, we do not istinguish people according to ethnic origin and I simply have no way of knowing who is and who is not a Jew. It is considered bad manners to inquire about ethnic origin. In a TV interview recently, the head rabbi of Latvia was asked about grassroots anti-Semitism in Latvia. He could not remember having heard of a single specific instance in all his career. Of course this does not mean that anti-Semitism does not ever manifest itself here, but it is very rare.

It truly pains my heart that these simple truths have escaped the attention of the Western governments. It is especially sad that Germany's chancellor Helmut Kohl should be so oblivious or so cynical. He, more that anyone else should have known that Latvians in Riga never honored and never would honor the Nazi occupation. He should have known that Latvians in Riga were honoring the memory of their countrymen who were illegally driven to their deaths by Germany's Nazi government. During the time of the promulgation of these lies, the leaders of Germany and France were the guests of their friend Boris Yeltsin, and by their silence they increased his credibility and tacitly acquiesced to his cant. Of course, it is understandable that Germany and France wish to refrain from antagonizing Russia on behalf of the insignificant Baltic nations. But it amounts to the usual political cynicism which has paved the way for all the world's greatest calamities, and it stinks strongly of Munich and a certain notorious furled umbrella in hand of a man who spoke lamely of "peace in our time".

Finally, the question arises: Just why did Russia need this nasty economic and political attack? The intentions of the Kremlin are clear. Russia will do anything to prevent the integration of Latvia in the European Union and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Russia felt the need to demonstrate the depth of Latvia's economic dependency on Russia. Russia felt the need to demonstrate its political might in the region. The rulers of Russia felt the need to scrape the mud from their boots on its traditional floormat in the region. What more effective way than to weep in public for their own countrymen undergoing "oppression" at the hands of the "fascistic" Baltic nations? They have no reason to expect anyone to argue against them. They have no reason to fear that anyone will point out the simple fact that only one tenth of these "oppressed" Russians wish to return to Russia. These people know all too well that in Russia, unlike Latvia, they would not be sure of receiving any pension payment regularly each month.

One man stands out among the Russian leaders with his vociferous call for an economic boycott of Latvia: Moscow mayor Luzhkov. His ambition is transparent - he wants to be Russia's next premier and then its next president, to be the leader of all Russians everywhere.

The West, as usual, pretends not to notice what is patently obvious, and Western leaders condescendingly advise Latvia to take care of its relations with its big neighbor.

Truly, it looks like the big one is raping the little one and the onlookers are shushing the little one - or are they waiting to take their turn?
Martins Barkovskis, Citizen of Latvia

The Second part to this story takes place in Lithuania. What is happening there that the Russians don't like and may make as big a deal out of it as they are making in Latvia.

Since this came out, other explosions have rocked Latvia. Is the KGB still alive and well in this country as well as in other "former Soviet Republics"?

Pro-Soviet Activist Faces Banishment From Lithuania

Dateline: Vilnius, Apr 21 (ELTA)

A Russian citizen Valery Ivanov, declaring love for Lithuania but ignoring its legislation, is likely to be exiled from the country. The exile procedure was initiated on Tuesday by Lithuanian Interior Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis who sent the respective documents to Vilnius 1st district court.

The 51-year-old Ivanov is currently jailed in Alytus colony prison. Last July, the court gave him a year's prison sentence for slandering victims of the January 13 tragedy. When presenting his book "The Lithuanian Prison in Russian Duma in May of 1996, he pictured cynically the death of Lithuania's freedom fighters. The former leader of pro-Soviet "Yedinstvo" organization said then the January 13 victims were killed not by the Soviet army. Although Ivanov called such sentence as "a political commission and violation of elementary human rights," the higher court rejected his appeal.

This was already the second sentence, given to Ivanov in Lithuania. In 1994, the Supreme Court sentenced him to 3 years, 6 months of prison for involvement in the anti-state activities of "Yedinstvo" movement. It was revealed that "Yedinstvo" made active efforts to disrupt the state and public order and constrain the sovereignty powers of Lithuania.

Ivanov failed to serve a full sentence term, since the migration department issued him a permanent residence permission. Such stride caused a row, since the former director of department Ceslovas Blazys voiced indignation at the Ivanov-favouring decision of ex-Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas, and, therefore, was forced out of director's office.

The press service of The Interior Ministry said Ziemelis, by signing a document on exile of a person to be released just in July, was making preparations for the immediate banishment of Ivanov from the country. Meanwhile, Vilnius' 1st district court is in for an unprecedented action, since no Lithuanian court has fulfilled a legal exile procedure.

The Chairman of The Court, Donatas Vancevicius, told ELTA the exile-proposing document might be considered even before the end of Ivanov's sentence term.

Editor's Note: Since this came out, Russia protested to Lithuania about the "illegal banishment" of Ivanov. What is Russia up to here - same thing brewing as in Latvia?

How Far Will She Go?

When we read about the performance of Mutual Funds, the caveat is always "Past performance is no indication of future earnings" (or something like that). In this case, past accomplishments has everything to do with future accomplishments.

In HUGE letters, the headline reads: ON THE AIR. One would probably pass it up if it weren't for the picture of the beautiful woman under the headline. And, to those of us versed in such things, the face of a beautiful Lithuanian woman - Raimonda Mikatavage.

"Dreams in Action" is the name of the TV show that airs on Channel 3's PrestigeVision in Maryland. Already an accomplished author, Raimonda pitched the idea for her show to the station - a show about people living their dreams. She was already on TV in the station's "Profiles" and Look Who's Talking". "The vivacious Mikatavage is another natural, Matthews says. She talks to the camera as if she were talking with a friend. She's also unflappable, Matthews says.

Once, during her show, Mikatavage was holding a book written by the guest she was interviewing, and she accidentally dropped it. Rather than react and disrupt the show, she continued smoothly with the interview."

Where will she go with this? Syndication? Will we have our own nationally famous talk show host? Whatever it will be, Raimonda will pursue her dream until it is reality.

Congratulations on your already many accomplishments and may there be many more to come.

Luthuania Is Not An Exotic Place

{Lithuania is not an exotic place nor are Lithuanians exotic people but there is some charm to this whole place ... (impressions after more than 50 days in Vilnius)}

Vilnius, the capital city, is very small scale and emits an almost village coziness. Actually the longer I'm here the more I feel like Lithuania is actually one big village. Let's face it, with just under 4 million inhabitants, you're not talking about a very large gene pool. I'm constantly seeing people that remind me of my relatives. This makes me feel like I'm surrounded by my family all the time.

The Land of Rutas: Suddenly my name's not unique anymore; take yesterday for example. There were 3 of us in the room and we were all named Ruta….ugh!!

Lithuania is a Banana Republic and they must be growing bananas here because:

  • Firstly, there are bananas everywhere, sold at almost every little fruit and vegetable stand, perhaps even easier to get than potatoes.
  • Everyone is eating bananas, young old, the beautiful and the ugly.
  • Bananas are very inexpensive.
  • And, statistically in 1996, Lithuania exported more bananas than it imported. So, the only logical deduction (besides a little under the table dealings which we know the Lithuanian people would never engage in) is they have devised a way to grow bananas in sub-arctic temperatures between the rows of cabbages and beets.

Why are bananas so popular? They were impossible to get during the Soviet period; now they have became the unofficial symbol of Lithuania's freedom.

The Beet Republic!

Lithuania is a leading world producer of beets. Now, that's something to be proud of. Now, if we could only figure out what to do with them besides making soup out of them. Any ideas would be appreciated and will be passed right on to the Ministry of Agriculture.

What Have You Consumed That's Lithuanian Lately?

Lithuania exported more than 32 tons of milk powder to the EU last year. So, maybe it was in something you ate? Another leading export is clothing. But, apparently the European companies that buy them stick their own labels on it so you'll never know its from here.

Lithuanian Cuisine

The national dish is bananas au natural (just kidding!!) Actually, it will probably not be a surprise to anyone that Lithuanians consume many, many potatoes, cabbages, beets, carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic on the veggie side and all parts of the pig,(hooves are a delicacy) cow, and chicken.

Let's not forget herring also plays a major role in the diet as well as tons of milk and cheese. I would say 99% of all Lithuanian cuisine is based on these main ingredients. The dish that all Lithuanians go crazy about is "cepeliniai" (literally translated as 'zeppelins') which are made from meat surrounded by grated potatoes that are boiled and then served with lots of grease and bacon bits. It hits the stomach like lead (a led zeppelin…ha, ha, ha) but Lithuanians love it!! Very economical! I had a vegetarian one a few nights back and I was not hungry until dinner the next day. In brief, Lithuanian food is hearty, farmer food.

To my delight, Lithuanians are also interested in expanding their diets. There are several new restaurants serving foods from Mexico, Italy, China, France, "and Africa". (I put Africa in quotes because there's really nothing African about the food except the name.) Though it's hard to call any of the food in these places authentic, its still a refreshing change. And, than there's always the McDonalds.

Local beer is good and cheap, Bulgarian wine is good and cheap, Lithuanian vodka is good and cheap and of course Lithuanian mead is good and cheap.

What I Like To Eat: Lithuanian Style

  • Boiled quail eggs on black bread toast with tomato and coffee for breakfast.
  • 'Salad' made of grated eggs, cheese, mayonnaise and lots of fresh garlic on black bread for lunch.
  • And, of course, a potato product for dinner like potato pancakes.

In sum, everything is cheap. And, for the foreigner, life is ridiculously cheap. For example: A trolley bus ticket in Lithuania costs about 15 US cents. A cup of coffee in a café is 50 US cents; a full meal costs about 4 US dollars.

Imported items are more expensive but they never cost more than they would if you bought them at home and are usually cheaper.

It's a smoker's dream world here! A pack of cigarettes costs around $1 US dollar. In contrast to a few years ago, most everything in Lithuania is now available and products are imported from all over the world. Many items are from Germany! I've seen lots of veggies like tomatoes and leeks from Holland whereas lots of telephone equipment and appliances are from the States!

A decent salary here is about $250 US dollars a month. Many people live off 50 US dollars a month (still ludicrously low!!).

Many of the evils we are so used to, and don't even notice, haven't completely permeated life here yet. Mass production, mass consumption, mass consumerism, mass advertising, mass video games, etc. are only present on a very low level.

Many items are still hand made! Production is on a small scale, low pesticide usage. There are very few billboards or large advertisements but then again, the cars!

At 7:00 in the morning, I awake suddenly to the sound of a car alarm in the not-so-far distance. It is a usual sound here and its annoying. After one alarm is turned off, another goes off. More often than not, it has nothing to with theft but triggered by the wind, a bump by a car trying to park, or a little old lady trying to rush past. Sometimes the owners are quick to turn the damn things off, but not quick enough. Car theft is big here, everyone talks and worries about it. I read in the paper that 27 cars were stolen last month alone. I heard of a guy who was given use of a nice, new company car and returned the car a few weeks later because he was stressed out by all the potential thieves circling all the time, watching him park and lock up, to get a good glimpse at the security system.

Thoughts on the Trolleybus & Other Relics of the Past

No one smiles .... no one says hello. It is as if everyone heard that their dog just died.

Thoughts Riding The Trolleybus: March 27, 1998

. . . Snow Storm! Easter is only 3 days away. I board the trolleybus. It's full! I need to stand, mashed between others. I start to sweat from the warm steam forming inside from all the bodies.

We move like a snail along the snowy tracks. The trolley bus can't weave through the traffic since it needs to stay connected to the electrical cables above. I'm getting dizzy!

We seem to stand still more than we move. A ride that normally takes 15 minutes is already ˝ hour long. More people keep getting on the trolley. I'm really sweating now and want to sit down but I can't even move. I'm breathing in breathed air. Finally, I just decide to get off at the next stop and walk the rest of the way.

The Lithuanian Character

Goodness, I could write reams on this one!

On the positive side, Lithuanians are quiet, keep to themselves, are clean,neat, and orderly. They are still very linked to the earth (farming roots). On the negative side, Lithuanians can be incredibly rude (if they think you're asking a stupid question). They don't smile much, the women wear too much makeup, and the men spit all the time. It would appear Lithuanians have no sales or marketing instincts.

A good example of this occurred while I was furniture shopping (another story in itself). The salespeople were literally running away from me. No one came up to help me, instead I had to hunt the salespeople down (some of which convincingly pleaded that it wasn't their section) and force them to take my money.

In another incident, though the salesperson didn't run away, she simply responded to all my inquiries with, "It's very good." That's a bit tedious in the end. Some stores are doing better, usually the ones that commission their salespeople but its still a rarity.

Back to character! On the extreme negative side, there are quite a few Lithuanian drunks. It is an awful site to see and even worse to have to endure at close range when crammed in a packed trolleybus!

Lithuania: Where Men are Men and Women are Women

Translated, this means: a woman is someone who wears makeup, dyes her hair, wears short skirts and teeters on small heels. A man on the other hand, does not wear makeup, dye his hair, wear heels or short skirts; a man here tries to have broad shoulders and a thick wallet.

Little old women are very visible and do lots of the dirty work. They're up at the crack of dawn cleaning the streets, they're selling fruits (mainly bananas) on the street, or they're elbowing their way through a crowd, big shopping bags or grandchild in tow looking purposeful. They are also the ones safeguarding the churches from vandalism, guarding national treasures at museums for a lousy wage, being very friendly if they like you and very intimidating if they don't. Seats on the buses are for little old ladies only!

How Do You Recognize a Little Old Lady In Lithuania?

Why she'll no doubt be wearing the little old lady uniform which is: A head scarf, a long winter coat, and big boots with the optional accessories of a big purse in one hand and a big shopping bag and grandchild in the other.

A memory from the past or: Further insight into the Lithuanian character.

Lithuanians, being the patriots that they've always been, did not take very kindly to their Russian occupation during the Soviet period. However, overt resistance was not tolerated by the occupants. So, passive hostility took other forms. In those days, if someone asked a Lithuanian for directions in Russian, the Lithuanian would comply by giving them a very detailed direction of the route to take. It didn't matter where the Russian had to go uptown or downtown, the directions where always the same and lead to the train station conveying the not-so-subtle message: if you don't speak the language than leave.

Even today when a foreigner learns a bit of Lithuanian, Lithuanians will often sarcastically comment: we've had other foreigners who lived here for 50 years and never learned the language.

They're still flexing their linguistic muscles. The initial excitement of reclaiming the language and culture hasn't worn off yet. During the Soviet period, everything had to be written in Russian! Now, everything is written in Lithuanian and often times only Lithuanian. Well, not so good for the tourist because unless they happen to know a bit of Latvian or Sanskrit, Lithuanian is incomprehensible. But apparently this doesn't stop the Japanese tourists from coming, they've even opened an embassy and a restaurant here!

My Lithuanian came back quite smoothly, the base of it anyway. That's one of the joys of the mother tongue! Since I learned it as a child, I have an almost instinctual feel for it. I don't have to think consciously, the language just comes. In the beginning, I did have to struggle to get my tongue around a few words and I still need to expand my vocabulary (when asked about my job for example I feel like Tarzan because all I can come up with is something like: Me work development).

But, with normal everyday conversation I have no problems. This has actually has caused me some grief because my accent is quite subtle and apparently not that noticeable. The reality of the matter is I still don't know a lot of the "ins" and "outs" of life here, especially administrative, bureaucratic details. When I ask basic questions people have treated me rudely, as if I were some sort of idiot. They must look at me and think: why is this woman asking me such a basic and stupid question. In one instance, I actually reverted to English to stress the fact that I was a 'foreigner' in order to get treated decently.

Freedom to Choose

An American was attending a small conference with some Russians. He had brought his Lithuanian interpreter with him but the conference was to be translated by a Russian interpreter. They waited and waited but the Russian interpreter but he did not show up. The American turned to his Lithuanian interpreter and asked, "Do you speak Russian"? She replied that she didn't speak Russian. In an effort to at least get something accomplished, the rest of the group tried to communicate without the interpreter but it was futile. Finally the Lithuanian interpreter stood up and with an air of resignation agreed to act as the Russian interpreter. The American was surprised to note that his Lithuanian interpreter seemed to translate Russian fluently. Afterwards he asked her why she hadn't agreed to use her Russian earlier. To this, she replied, "You didn't ask me if I could speak Russian and obviously I can, but I don't".

"Where have you put Lenin?" I asked a workman. "Why, do you miss him?" he answered slyly before pointing out the way to where the main statue of Lenin is being kept these days: face down on the ground enclosed by a mesh cage and surrounded by broken down Soviet trucks. His other communist colleagues lie in a similar disgraced and abandoned state.

That's the general spirit here, people are glad to have their own country back again. They're deeply rooted here. As a Lithuanian poem says:

Lithuania is but a small smoldering piece of amber on God's bountiful table
. . . it is not much, it never was much but somehow for the people here,
it is more than enough.

Hope you enjoyed this little journey through my thoughts! Don't forget to write!
Ruta Aidis
Vienuolio 12-4
2001 Vilnius

The above may be reprinted in whole or in part if acknowledgements are given to the author.

The Man From Red October (Part #3)

Five years after Jonas' defection, she met some American Lithuanians who were visiting in Vilnius. She asked if by chance they were acquainted with a certain Jonas Pleskys. "Of course," one of the guests replied. "We just saw him at a Lithuanian even in southern California. He was singing Lithuanian folk songs. He has a good voice. We can't understand how such a young Lithuanian has managed such a successful career in the United States." Eugenija asked no more questions. she didn't ask them to take any message to him in California. she understood his situation. That he was still alive made that day one of the happiest days of her life.

Brother and sister would not meet for 27 years. Meanwhile, her own career in films and on the stage prospered. She and other Lithuanian artists made silent protests of their own. She is proudest of her film "Herkus Mantus", filmed by the Lithuanian Film Studios in Vilnius in 1974. This historical spectacle portrayed the Lithuanian nation fighting a Teutonic invader and occupier. By some miracle, the film passed the Soviet censors. They determined it dealt with Lithuanian history and not current politics. those who worked on the film, as well as the Lithuanian audience, knew exactly what the film was about. The film won prizes at several international film festivals. Since Soviet artists were not permitted to travel, they had no idea their film had won acclaim and prize money abroad. Moscow claimed the glory for itself. They did honor my friend "Pleskyte", as she was known professionally, with a best acting prize in Moscow. By this time she was much beloved in her own country as well as in other corners of the Soviet Union. When I asked her how she was able to do such an outstanding acting job in "Herkus Mantus", she replied, "When the film spoke of the hateful enemies, the Prusai, in my mind I substituted the word Rusai" "Ne vaidinau," she laughed. "I wasn't acting."

When Perestroika opened the doors to artistic exchange with the United States, Eugenija's repertory company successfully toured the United States in 1988. On the 34th floor of a skyscraper hotel in downtown Houston, Eugenija and Jonas were finally reunited. It was in that unlikely setting that Jonas told her the truth of his defection and explained the circumstances of his life under the protection of the CIA. In order to talk privately, he turned up the TV full blast and took her outside on the balcony. He was used to being spied upon. Even at this late date, he was taking no chances. he knew he had been condemned to death in absentia by a soviet Military Tribunal. The sentence was never revoked. Eugenija also knew that a KGB Major was traveling with her acting troup. She was never sure who else might be an informer.

She was not surprised to hear that Jonas had a series of careers, moved around a lot to elude his pursuers. Even today, his exact chronology is not clear. Much remains shrouded in mystery. What is known, is that after debriefing the storehouse of technical information at CIA headquarters, he taught for some time at the Seattle Naval War College. He studied and taught at Stanford University, worked at an important LA computer firm. The CIA finally placed him at American President Companies in Oakland, California as a systems management specialist. Before that, he spent nine years in hiding in the hills of Central and South America. He lived among the Mayas. He felt these were some of his happier years, outside modern civilization.

He was unable to lead a normal life, although he did fall in love with a beautiful woman of Spanish ancestry. With her he fathered a daughter, Jennifer. Being one of the "hunted" was a very stressful life. As a heroic Lithuanian patriot, Jonas sacrificed his personal life as a protest against the inhumane Soviet system. He longed for his homeland, but other than companionship of other Lithuanian immigrants, there was little he could expect. Even the Lithuanian Americans with whom Jonas socialized could not understand him. He rarely spoke of his past or his defection. They were often surprised and sometimes annoyed when he suddenly disappeared. He was sworn to silence. The CIA always followed the KGB. When the KGB was close on Jonas' tail, the CIA warned him or hid him. He disappeared.

Jonas' American friends were also unaware that he had spent two years in association with Tom Clancy, before he wrote his bestseller "The Hunt for Red October." No doubt the CIA permitted this association, since Clancy's book would portray our own Navy and CIA hero in favorable light. Jonas was able to give Clancy an enormous amount of technical information on the Soviet subs, the details of his "escape", as well as provide him with a prototype for his hero, Captain Marko Ramius. Obviously, Clancy's book was fictionalized and had the usual disclaimers. He was not able to include Jonas in any of the credits without endangering him.

The book was published in 1984, and several years later was made into an exciting and popular film starring Sean Connery as Marko Ramius. When Jonas' sister Eugenija saw the film, she was astounded at his portrayal. Although it is unlikely that Sean Connery had any association with Jonas, he was able to capture not only his physical characteristics, but also his determined and taciturn manner. There was a calm and faultless logic about this man, which neither our CIA nor the Soviets were able to decipher.

The Brave Robin Hood Back in Lithuania

Dateline: Vilnius, Apr 29 (ELTA)

Shooting of the American TV serial "New Adventures of Robin Hood" is continuing in the Lithuanian film studio. The first twenty-six parts of the serial, shot during two previous summers, will be supplemented by thirteen more.

The most surprising news this year was changing of the leading man. Actor John Bradley will play the role of Robin Hood, while his partner, Barbara Griffin, will further act as his beloved Marion.

The continuation of "New Adventures of Robin Hood" is shot in the fields and pavilions of film studio, as well as Nemencine forest, which stands for Sherwood, located near Vilnius.

Under supervision of Warner Bros" Company, the serial shooting is carried out by a 43-person team -- actors, film directors, cameramen, producers, assistants, and stunt men. Making of each part is expected to require 10 to 15 more people from Britain.

The filmmakers have invited Lithuanian specialists, among them painter Galius Klicius and costume designer Daiva Petrulyte. Although the film shooting was going rather smoothly, the director of Lithuanian film studio Robertas Urbonas joked, "So far, we have faced the only one problem. Americans cannot resist the beauty of Lithuanian girls!"

Female Readers Offered the Lithuanian Version of Cosmopolitan

Dateline: Vilnius, Apr 28 (ELTA)

The popular women's magazine "Cosmopolitan" will come out in Lithuania, with the first issue to appear on Wednesday. A license for publication of the Lithuanian "Cosmo" came from international Hearst corporation and has been purchased by the owners of local Ieva Magazine, Ieva and Viktoras Tombakai. Lithuania is to become the 36th country publishing Cosmo."

Speaking about a possible competition in the local market, Ieva Tombakiene said the new magazine might face challenges only in the advertising field.

"Our women are so curious. They read all women's magazines, therefore, Cosmo will undoubtedly appeal to them," she said. The Lithuanian version of Cosmo containing 150 pages initially, will come out every two months, while next year will witness monthly publishing of the magazine.

British Airways Launches Flights to Lithuania

Dateline: Vilnius, Apr 27 (ELTA)

British Airways, one of the biggest worldairlines, launched flights to Lithuania as country number 100 on its world-wide network.

The first of a planned four flights a week touched down on Sunday evening, while on Monday morning 92 passengers became the first to leave Lithuania on a scheduled BA flight.

"Lithuania is an exciting new destination for British Airways and we believe that it will be one of our most successful new routes," BA manager for the Baltic states Harvey Lines said.

"Initial bookings are extremely encouraging," he added. Fares started from $469 for a return flight but BA said it was keen to introduce lower fares later, which would be a subject to government approval. Vilnius is one of four planned new British Airways destinations this year. BA will employ six people and Boeing 737-400 with 147 seats to service the route.

Lines said BA's sales force would be promoting Lithuania all over the world and Vilnius would become a new destination in the BA Holidays City Break brochure.

British Airways flight to Lithuania came after successful launch of service to Riga last year. The airlines extended its flights to Riga from four to five a week. BA hopes that both Riga and Vilnius flights will eventually become seven-day a week services.

A Plea For Help

By Geoffrey Vasiliauskas This is a legitimate plea for help from a woman whose story has been outlined by the Lithuanian press for the last several months. Please distribute to any and all potential helpers and contribute to the bank account she has set up for his ransom if you are able. It seems there is no other way than to purchase the man's life back from the Chechens. The story is all the more poignant when one remembers the unceasing support Lithuanians gave to Chechen independence during the war with Russia. Please help save this man's life.

Letter to Lietuvos Rytas newspaper, Letters section
Dateline: April 27, 1998

Perhaps the People of Lithuanian won't be apathetic to our Misfortune.

My husband Viktoras Grodis, for more than a half year, has been held as a hostage in Chechnya. Almost once a week bandits from Chechnya call our house and demand, in exchange for freeing my husband, $100,000 US dollars. Our family has been more than once threatened with the prospect. If we don't pay the money, we will get by post my husband's severed head.

The Chechens haven't asked for anything else from us, just the money. They are not hiding the fact that stealing people is their business. For more than half a year, all of us -- Viktoras's parents, I, and my six-year old daughter -- have been living in a kind of hell. My daughter still doesn't know what actually happened to her father, but she does feel that some great misfortune has come to visit our home.

All of Lithuania's law enforcement institutions have been informed of my husband's kidnapping in Chechnya. People sitting in Seimas, The Parliament, also know about our tragedy, as do officials at the highest level of power. But even so until now not even a little step has been taken towards freeing my husband.

It looks like the Lithuanian government really just doesn't care about the fate of its citizens. Politicians are much more concerned with the allocation of portfolios, who will sit down in which chair of some ministry's leadership.

After a three month absense, the kidnappers allowed me to speak with my husband for a few minutes by telephone. He prayed of me to do whatever I possibly could to pull him out of his hell. Knowing my husband's character and his health, I understood that he won't hold on much longer.

Sometimes it occurs to me that the Lithuanian government is still waiting for when I will bring home my husband's remains. I don't know anymore. What else I can do? The bandits didn't agree to the lesser sum that I suggested which I could come up with by selling our family's one room apartment.

I hope that Lithuania's people, unlike the people in power, will not remain apathetic to the misfortune which has befallen our family. I still have the hope that our daughter will get to see her father alive, and not escort him in a zinc coffin.

I'm asking people who can help, even a little bit, to transfer money for my husband's ransom to the account 2882025406 at Lithuanian Savings Bank, that is, Lietuvos Taupomasis Bankas (Bank code 60102, payment account's number 23509). I thank everyone in advance.

Rasa Grodiene
Vilnius, Lithuania

Correspondence Received From: Geoffrey
Dateline: Monday, May 4, 1998

Calls for Help by Lithuanian Hostage Unanswered

Donatas Stravinskas, Correspondent to Lietuvos Rytas newspaper in Vilnius, Lithuania

Lithuania's Government Apathetic to the Fate of the Vilnius Businessman Held Hostage in Chechnya.

Afraid to Die in Captivity

"I beg of you, help me, pull me out from hell, help me to return home, I besiege you with all my heart. I can go on no longer, it is very bad for me, I can barely walk, my health is gone, but still I'm holding out somehow on skin and bones. If I am destined to die, then I want to do it at home."

Such was the letter from Grozny which Vilnius resident Rasa Grodiene received a few days ago from her husband. Her husband, 34 year old Viktoras Grodis, has been held hostage in Chechnya since September of last year. The Lithuanian went to Russia on business matters in March of 1997. In September a stranger called the Grodis family at home and said that the Lithuanian had been kidnapped in Chechnya. The wife of the Lithuanian being held hostage spoke by telephone dozens of times with a representative of the kidnappers, a man who always introduced himself as Magomed.

At first Rasa Grodiene was instructed to pay, in exchange for her husband's liberation, one half of a million US dollars in ransom. Not receiving the requested sum, after three months the kidnappers later discounted the price to 150,000 USD.

Planning no Further Discounts Currently, the criminals from Chechnya are demanding 100,000 USD for letting Grodis go. "This is the final price. If there is no money, he will not return," Magomed threatened Rasa Grodiene many times. The kidnappers even promised Grodis' parents during one telephone conversation to send them their son's head if their demands were not met. The criminals have demanded only money the entire time and have raised no political or other kinds of demands.

Rasa Grodiene offered the kidnappers a lesser sum, which she could raise if she sold her one room apartment and borrowed further, but Magomed didn't agree to that. He even joked sarcastically that he had already spent about $20,000 US dollars on talking to Grodiene by mobile phone. "If you want to pay only part, then you will get your husband in parts. What do you want to get first: head or leg?" Magomed asked sarcastically.

The criminals of Chechnya are demanding that the money for letting the Lithuanian go be paid through Daghestan's Security Service [Soviet bezopasnosti in Russian perhaps] secretary M. Tolboyev. "You give him the money, and we give you your husband," said the kidnappers.

No Differentiating Borders Left

Certain officials form the [Lithuanian] Interior Ministry spoke by telephone with M. Tolboyev, concerned about Grodis' liberation. At the time M. Tolboyev even suggested taking hostage in Lithuania some Chechen and exchanging him for Grodis. M. Tolboyev gave the family of the kidnapped to understand that they need to pay for the Lithuanian. After such conversations Interior Ministry officials said they were shocked. "It seems that in this region no borders remain between law enforcement officials and criminals," they said.

Bandits Not to Release for Nothing

Lietuvos rytas also spoke with Daghestan Security Service's secretary M. Tolboyev. M. Tolboyev confirmed that the Vilnius resident V. Grodis is being held hostage in Chechnya.

"Probably everyone has forgotten about Grodis in Lithuania. The last time anyone called me about him was more than a half of a year ago. "I just received information from my militiamen [police officers] that your guy is being hidden somewhere in a cave in the mountains. Together with him, the bandits are holding another five hostages, among whom there are even bankers, deputy head of the Rostov regional administration. We exchanged a few of our own (Daghestanis - Ed.), but all the rest remain in the cave."

"How would it be possible to free Mr Grodis?"

"I don't know. Nobody cares about the freeing of hostages, no one needs it. We just formed a commission which is ocupied with searching for our citizens. We find foreigners accidentally: looking for our own, we find also citizens of foreign countries.

"We have niether a law, nor a legal basis, according to which it would be possible to work freeing hostages. It is not indicated in any document whether it's possible, for example, to exchange a policeman [militiaman] for a bandit who is in prison. We have run into a totally uncivilized situation.

"Gangs, who kidnap people and demand ransoms, are, in Chechnya, legion. Bandits in Daghestan are already beginning to take up that occupation. This is becoming an international business.

"We exchange for our own. For example, relatives of the kidnapped Daghestani go to Chechnya, there they find out, who among the acquaintances of the kidnappers is being held in jail in Daghestan. After that, both sides agree and make a trade for their own.

"You defended and helped Chechnya [Lithuania supported Chechnya during their war with Russia and held out the possibility in theory of diplomatic recognition for a Chechen state indepndent of Moscow. Lithuania retains diplomatic and governmental contacts with Chechnya now, namely a press officer of the Chechen government in Vilnius]. And now you see what they do. Chechens charged me with something also, and didn't inform me of it. They don't understand humane speech. They think that they are the sole real men, and all others are cowards.

"I'm not against it, if your military group came in to free the Lithuanian. That needed to be done a long time ago. Let them try, if they themselves won't be taken hostage.

"But I caution and suggest all others not travel to the Northern Caucasses Region. Let them among themselves solve everything. Let one side from the beginning take all the others hostage, and later vice versa. Only after that will it be possible to travel there.

"I am an officer and I don't even dare think about that. But they not only think, they are doing. They bury their interests in the Koran and the Bible, they have neither honour nor consciences. In one hand they hold the Koran, in the other a spear and after that explain they are Muslims. But there is nothing for us to fear from them."

"Is it possible the bandits will let the Lithuanian go without ransom?"

"They have still let no one go like this. They killed everyone."

"Why are the Chechens demanding the ransom of Grodis be paid to you?"

"You understand that wrongly and are interpreting it in your own way. They themselves give us inforamtion about hostages and ask us to report it to their loved ones. After that because of that begin all sorts of interpretations. I am only trying to do good. On Grodis' behalf I just did the same thing, contacted Lithuania and reported that a Lithuanian is taken captive."

Live Hostages Not Released

Rasa Grodiene spoke by telephone with Daghestan Security Service secretary M. Tolboyev's aid a few months ago, who introduced himself as Abdula. This man asked how she was succeeding.

Abdula admitted that in Chechnya the kidnapping business is doing quite well. The official told how in Chechnya's villages even neighbors take neighbors hostage and demand ransom for them.

Abdula also confirmed that Chechen kidnappers not receiving the ransom demanded never let a live hostage go.

Allowed to Speak by Telephone

The hostage takers earlier allowed Rasa Grodiene to speak by telephone with her husband and to make sure he was still alive. Grodiene said her husband spke very weakly and felt that he was exhausted. Speaking to his wife, Grodis gave her to understand that he is in Chechnya, but where exactly, he didn't know. The kidnapped Lithuanian then said he was in some kind of closed building and couldn't escape, because he was guarded and without any energy, utterly exhausted.

"My husband mentioned that they are torturing him and getting a kick out of it. He asked us to do everything possible, because he doesn't know if he can hang on much longer," Rasa Grodiene said. How Grodis, gone to Russia, fell into captivity in Chechnya, is unclear until now.

Lithuanian Government Laughed At

Grodis' kidnappers know that many of Lithuania's institutions are informed about Grodis' kidnapping. Representative of the bandits Magomed during one conversation even joked: "You're already there in Europe, and your government can't even free one man. So, that means everyone in Lithuania can just spit on him?"

The kidnappers boasted to the hostage's wife that they have a video cassette which shows Grodis. The criminals then repeated that if the ransom isn't paid, the Lithuanian will be killed. Afraid they would later be charged with killing an innocent man, the criminals confirmed to Grodiene they would fabricate evidence and show Viktoras Grodis to be an enemy of Chechnya on video tape.

Looking for Help in the Ministries

Seeking who might help, Grodis' mother and wife visited many Lithuanian institutions: the President's Office, Parliament, Government House, and the Foreign and Interior Ministries.

But concern over the Vilnius resident fallen into captivity mostly expressed itself just as official written statements by government officials from Lithuania to certain Russian and Chechen institutions. Interpol channels have been contacted as well about the kidnapping of Grodis. According to Interpol's Russian Division's data, a gang of bandits active near Grozny took Grodis hostage.

Last year in December in Chechnya, five Polish citizens delivering humanitarian aid were kidnapped. Immediately after this incident, it was seriuosly considered in Poland whether or not to send a group of former special services officials to free Poland's citizens. [KGB?]

Lithuanian Unimportant to Politicians?

Interior Ministry officials also weighed the possibility of sending a group from Lithuania to look for and liberate Grodis. However, the greatest doubt on the success of this operation arose because the hostage's exact location of detention is unknown.

High-level ministry officials also questioned who would be responsible if the group or part of it falls into captivity in Chechnya. The Foreign Ministry's director of the Consular Department, Algimantas Misevicius assured that one must not give in to the hostage takers' demands. "Lithuania can't pay for him, and thus further encourage criminals," said Misevicius.

High-level Lithuanian law enforcement officials wondered why so far for the freeing of the Lithuanian the highest political level has not even been approached [it had been]: "Why are the Parliament and Government quiet, or is so that they don't worry about the fate of the Lithuanian man?"

Vytautas Landsbergis, a few months before gone to Moscow and speaking with high-level Russian officials, also made no mention of Grodis.

Not to be Written or Spoken About?

Lietuvos rytas newspaper didn't succedd in finding out what concrete actions people in Parliament have taken on behalf of the kidnapped Lithuanian. They all explained they are concerned about Viktoras Grodis' fate, but declined to tell about anything at all. "Writing about Viktoras Grodis, you are not behaving as gentlemen. You need sensation, therefore I cannot help you. I can't tell you anything. You're losing confidence," explained the general secretary, Algirdas Endriukaitis, of the International Group of Parliamentarians maintaining close contacts with Chechnya [he was enthusiastically in favor of recognizing Chechnya in Lithuania in 1994, 1995, 1996].

Not Revealing their Works

"I know the Grodis story and, clearly, I am doing something about that, but I wouldn't like to talk about it. I think that that will be better. Why? There are certain things which shouldn't be discussed. It's a pity, but I can't tell you anything. The work is taking place colatterally," claimed the representative of the "Chechenpress" agency in Lithuania, Aminat Saijeva.

Not long ago an international parliamentary symposium took place in Vilnius. There the world community was asked to solve the problem of de jure recognition of Chechnya's independence as soon as possible. However, A. Saijeva said, that nothing was mentioned about the man being held in captivity, Grodis, to the Chechen parliamentarians who had come to Lithuania, not even in official talks. "We analysed other problems at the symposium," explained Saijeva.

Member of Parliament as well as leader of the Parliamentarians' Relations with Chechnya Group, Rytis Kupcinskas, also didn't want to reveal what concrete actions are being made to free Viktoras Grodis: "Is that which I say going to contribute to the finding of Grodis?It will not contribute. We continually on his behalf present questions to institutions of executive power and we truely are worried about the fate of the Lithuanian."

Kupcinskas denied the statement of Saijev, that during the international symposium of parliamentarians nothing was said about the kidnapped Lithuanian. However, the member of parliament just the same wouldn't agree to speak on the details of what was said in a conversation with Chechnya's members of parliament.

Businessman Offers to Help

After earlier articles by Lietuvos rytas about the Lithuanian held hostage a single businessman offer to help Rasa Grodiene. He is trying to effect Grodis' liberation through his influential business partners living in the Caucusses region.

"I don't know what else to undertake. We've never had and never will have the sum demanded by the kidnappers," Rasa Grodiene told Lietuvos rytas. Still she preserves the hope her husband will return to Lithuania alive.

Daughter Doesn't Know, Where's Daddy

Grodis' five-year old daughter still doesn't know what happened to her father. "Through Easter in the Archcathedral she and I together prayed and asked that daddy will retturn home as soon as possible," Grodiene recalled.

Not seeing any other way out, Grodiene decided to open an account at a bank. She hopes Lithuanian people and organizations will sacrifice even small sums to ransom a kidnapped Lithuanian from captivity. "If even every third resident of Lithuania, not turning away from another person's misfortune, would sacrifice even one litas apiece [USD 0.25] ... Then there would be hope that a daughter who hasn't seen her father in more than a year will soon be able to draw close to him," said Rasa Grodiene asking for help.

The main operations building is:

Lietuvos Taupomasis Bankas - Operaciju skyrius
Savanoriu prospektas 19
2009 Vilnius
telephone: (370) (2) 232379
fax: (370) (2) 232433
telex 2618 40 TAUP LT

There is a regional Vilnius directorate at:
Tuskulenu 29,
tel 370 2 728338
fax 370 2 728340

Someone speaks English at all of the above numbers, and there is an email address and webpage:
E-Mail Address
Website Address

Your bank should be able to route any amount using the SWIFT number. Thank you for caring. I can be reached at my email address if need be, but any bank knows how to find and transfer funds to a bank overseas. Once again, here is the account info as published in the newspaper:

"I'm asking people who can help even a little bit to transfer money for my husband's ransom to the account 2882025406 at Lithuanian Savings Bank, that is, Lietuvos Taupomasis Bankas (bank code 60102, payment account's number 23509). I thank everyone in advance."

Rasa Grodiene
Vilnius, Lithuania

Thank you again for your charity.

The philosophical/strategic question of whether to pay hostage takers or not becomes purely a luxury to be set aside for easier times when your loved one becomes the hostage. In this case, it's too late to do much but pay them, then inform all of the country and the world not to go anywhere near the Caucasses Mts., southern Russia, and never ever to do business with the Daghestani regional government. They will have to kill him if the money isn't paid to send a message to the next victim's family to pay up or never see their father, mother etc again. It is probably wisest to pay this time and prevent it from happening again by publicizing the case.

Revenge is a luxury we can't really afford when a life is on the line.


Dateline: VILNIUS, May 15, 1998 (Reuters)

Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius asked for the help of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov on Friday in freeing a Lithuanian man held hostage for ransom in the breakaway Russian region.

The government press office said in a statement that Vagnorius sent a telegram to Maskhadov asking for help in releasing Viktoras Gruodis, a 34-year-old businessman kidnapped last September. A $100,000 ransom has been demanded.

"I hope that you and your authorities will help Viktoras Gruodis return to Lithuania, whose people have been friendly to the Chechen nation," the press release quoted Vagnorius as saying in the telegram.

The Lithuanian government has repeatedly rejected the idea of paying the sum, saying it will not break international regulations barring ransom payments. Public calls in Lithuania for helping Gruodis prompted the owner of a local lottery to ask for government permission to donate a portion of the jackpot to Gruodis' wife, who is trying to raise money to pay the ransom.

Since the end of the war with Russia, Chechnya has experienced a crime wave with hundreds of kidnappings by armed bandits. Three Latvians have been kidnapped in the neighbouring Russian autonomous republic of Ingushetia.

Comments From Webmaster: This ain't gonna work!

Greetings From Faraway Tasmania!

"Nereikalingu svetimzodziu rinkinys" (A Collection of unnecessary foreign words in Lithuanian) will be published in Tasmania next Friday May 15.

This 65-page book is in Lithuanian and it lists 1150 barbarisms that have crept into the Lithuanian language (like: ofisas, adekvatus, kantri muzika...)

The book also offers 1600 translations of these foreign borrowings into pure Lithuanian.

The volume is lavishly illustrated by Kev Bailey, Tasmania's best known cartoonist.

"Rinkinys" is an ideal gift for the Lithuanians everywhere - at home and abroad.

Special introductory price US$7 per copy, incl. $3 airmail postage to any address in the world.

For those travelling to Lithuania this summer, here is a practical suggestion: if you are not sure what to take for gifts, take a dozen copies of "Rinkinys" with you. 12 copies will weigh only 3 lbs. (one and a half kg) and will cost you only US$75 to buy (extra discount for a dozen).

Please send your orders to:
LSS, Post Office Box 777, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, 7006,

Or, e-mail Al Takunas
Lithuanian Studies Society at the University of Tasmania.

Liberty County Cemetery

Schuylkill County Prison
Pottsville, PA 17901
Attn: Matt, Work Release

Dear Sir:

Several of the citizens of the Schuylkill County have contacted you with a request for help in restoring the Liberty Cemetery in Shenandoah, PA. I would like to add my own name to their request, as well as make a request in the name of the "Archive of Ausrininkas dr. Jonas Sliupas".

You may wander why I am making this request in the name of an archive of which I am the president. Dr.Jonas Sliupas in the second half of the last century was a resident of the Schuylkill County, and a prominent leader of the Schenandoah Lithuanian-American community. [For your further information I am enclosing copies of articles which appeared in the March 14-15 issue of the "Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald" and in the Univ. of Maryland Medical Alumni Bulletin, Winter 1991]. Many of dr. J. Sliupas' followers are buried in the Liberty Cemetery, thus we are greatly concerned that their memories are properly maintained.

Cemeteries in general are not only places of great personal importance to those whose relatives are buried there, but also very important to the history of the community and the whole county. In countries like Scandinavia, cemeteries are maintained for centuries and are visited by residents and foreigners as well. There is a lot of history that can be learned if cemeteries are in presentable state. Well maintained cemeteries are also a pride of the community. Now the Liberty Cemetery has been neglected and when I made a special trip to the cemetery in search of the graves of prominent Schuylkill residents, who are mentioned in numerous writings of dr. J. Sliupas, I was shocked. The Liberty Cemetery contains remains of the Citizens of the United States, many veterans of the U.S.Armed Forces, as well as regular members of the community. Certainly it should be the responsibility and the duty of the County to clean up the grounds and restore the monuments to their former beauty. I understand that the caretaker of the adjacent Old St.George's Cemetery has promised to maintain the Liberty Cemetery in the future provided it is first restored.

I appeal to you to make a special effort to restore the Liberty Cemetery.

Sincerely yours,
Vytautas J. Sliupas, PE


Will Sabonis be back? He did an interview with the Washington Post and all indications are, he will. He had his best season yet, and, at 33, still has two years to go on his contract. Back to Europe where he dominated the sport for so many years? Not likely because he wants to end his career in the NBA. How many years does he have left? Depends on his body - three, maybe four?

This season Sabonis averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 32 minutes per game. Newly acquired Damon Stoudemire admires him - he said he is so efficient he could walk up and down the court and still get double doubles every night!

It was a good season that ended all too soon, but there is next year and we all look forward to watching the big man do his magic with the basketball again.

Till next month!