Rūta Vanagaitė is visiting the US and reading lectures on her book Mūsiškiai and this is also raising waves across the Atlantic. Protesters were watched by the police at a lecture in Cleveland, while after her lecture in Minneapolis, US Lithuanian Audrius Sinickas described her as a "huge anti-Lithuanian propaganda machine" and accused her of working for Vladimir Putin.
A. Sinickas and a number of Lithuanian-American community members participated in R. Vanagaitė's lecture in Minneapolis for Russian speakers several days ago.
"Yesterday, Rūta Vanagaitė was giving presentation to Russian speaking population of Minnesota, we, a few Lithuanians also attended. With our curious and opened American minds. We wanted to see first hand - why she is so controversial in Lithuania. We were for a treat. Her opening remarks were: "I was giving a presentation yesterday in Cleveland and Lithuanians were disturbing and shouting and needed police to calm them down. I hope if there are Lithuanians here they will be nice," A. Sinickas writes.
Most of the attendees learned about R. Vanagaitė online before the lecture. According to A. Sinickas, they always eagerly welcome Lithuanians coming to Minnesota, invite them to their events and homes.
"So, we thought it will be the same here. Whooow we were wrong!!! I never in my life have been so angry/frustrated/felt abused/felt like someone is raping our country/our history/lying in the face/putting Lithuania's name down/showing Lithuania as the country of corruption and with no future- just simply put, she is a huge anti-Lithuania propaganda machine," the US Lithuanian rebuked.
A. Sinickas continues by asking, whether her stories hold any truth. He points out that as always, history and conflicts have two sides and these were written about before and well documented. "I am not talking about that. But want to see the truth and see who is behind all this negativity and disinformation? Who is interested in giving disinformation about Lithuania not only in Lithuania, but around the world? First of all, in two hours of her presentation, Rūta never said one good word about Lithuania or Lithuanians?
I do not care which country you are from, but the respect for your country and people are always in your hearts. If you loose that you cannot be called a citizen of that country. Because of this, I am asking you to think: who is behind it, to who's interest she is playing into, who is there to gain from all this "conflict"? Which neighboring country? Am I getting closer??" the US Lithuanian writes.
A. Sinickas suggests to consider – the retiree writer decides to use her own funds to publish the book, travels around the world for her own money and spreads propaganda about her own people. "And portray countryman as animals, and show all in black light. We all suspect that that person will not be liked in any country. But why is she done it? Who is behind it?" he asks.
According to the US Lithuanian, by doing any research, you should use the best information available. However, he points out, in this case R. Vanagaitė used only Lithuanian people in her book and no-one else. "It begs a question why and who is behind it? Answer is simple - you can blame only one nation- Lithuania!"
According to A. Sinickas, the entire "investigation" was done in KGB archives. He is convinced that the "Moscow KGB supplied some files too."
"Who is gaining? Obviously, Russia and its leader. They are eager to portray Lithuania and other east Europe countries as "bad, bad, bad" apples. Especially if they were part of former Soviet Union. It is Russia who is ready to save everyone from evil. They did it in Ukrainian, Georgia... they doing it again.
[...] Yes, Rūta, you are a person with a mission of destroying nation's unity, putting friends against friends in Russian speaking communities... what is your purpose???" A. Sinickas concludes his Facebook post, which he permitted Delfi to quote. He is surprised that R. Vanagaitė speaks of feeling unsafe in her country, talks poorly of the country's government, history and future.
R. Vanagaitė: I categorically disagree
A. Sinickas rebuke was news to R. Vanagaitė.
"I categorically disagree. I was invited by Harvard University and the Wilson Institute in Washington. Also several Jewish organisations and private individuals, Jews, mostly Litvaks, at whose homes I stay. I talk about Mūsiškiai.
I cannot lie that the Lithuanians did not participate in the Holocaust. What was written in the book is what I am talking about. If anyone feels it is unpatriotic, that's nothing new. It appeared that way to even Landsbergis. Accusations of serving Putin seem despicable to me," R. Vanagaitė told Delfi, claiming she received no reproach during the event.
She recalled that in Minnesota, 10 Lithuanians thanked her with flowers.
R. Vanagaitė also claimed that one individual, Linas Johansson organised a protest in Cleveland. Due to this, police were present in the hall. Since the meeting was held in the Jewish Culture Centre, people were particularly wary – there were fears of anti-Semitic attacks.