Algirdas Brazauskas

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Algirdas Brazauskas
Algirdas Mykkolas Brazauskas, Litauens statsminster, under det Nordiskt-Baltiska statsministermotet i Reykjavik 2005-10-24.jpg
First Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania
In office
1988–1989
Preceded by Ringaudas Bronislovas Songaila
Succeeded by Mykolas Burokevičius
President of Lithuania
In office
25 February 1993 – 25 February 1998
Preceded by Vytautas Landsbergis
Succeeded by Valdas Adamkus
Prime Minister of Lithuania
In office
3 July 2001 – 31 May 2006
Preceded by Eugenijus Gentvilas
Succeeded by Zigmantas Balčytis
Personal details
Born (1932-09-22)22 September 1932
Rokiškis, Lithuania
Died 26 June 2010(2010-06-26) (aged 77)
Vilnius, Lithuania
Political party Communist Party of Lithuania (1957–1990)
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1959-1989)
Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (1990–2001)
Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (2001–2010)
Spouse(s) Julija Brazauskienė
Kristina Brazauskienė
Children 2 daughters (from first marriage)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature

Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas ([ˈɐ̂ˑlʲɡʲɪrd̪ɐs̪ ˈmʲîːkoːɫɐs̪ brɐˈz̪ɐ̂ˑʊs̪kɐs̪] ( ), 22 September 1932 – 26 June 2010[1]) was the first President of a newly independent post-Soviet Lithuania from 1993 to 1998 and Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

He also served as head of the Communist Party of Lithuania that broke with Moscow, an act which arguably helped bring about the demise of the Soviet Union.

Biography[edit]

Brazauskas was born in Rokiškis, Lithuania. He finished Kaišiadorys High School in 1952 and graduated from Kaunas Polytechnic Institute in 1956 with a degree in civil engineering.[2] In 1967 Brazauskas started working in the Governmental Planning Committee, as a Committee's head's assistant. In 1974, Brazauskas received PhD in Economics.

He divorced his first wife, Julia, with whom he had two daughters; he married Kristina Butrimienė in 2002.[3]

Political views[edit]

He rose to politics in the 1980s, as the Soviet Union was undergoing radical change. In turn he transformed himself from a Communist Party apparatchik to a moderate reformer. He was seen as cautious by nature, and when confronted by the tide of nationalist feeling in the Soviet empire Brazauskas initially believed that the old USSR might be reconstituted as a looser federation of independent, but communist, states. In seeing the tide of an independent democracy, he joined the reformist cause observing in 1990 that "We are realists now, and we cannot be propagating any utopian ideas. It's no secret [that] the Communist Party has a dirty history."

Though he sought to avoid a breach with Moscow in 1989, as leader of Lithuania's Communist Party, he formally severed the party's links with Moscow. This was rare in that no other former Soviet republics dared to take this step. Some believe that this act confirmed the inevitability of the demise of the Soviet Union.[3]

Political career[edit]

He took various positions in the government of Lithuanian SSR and Communist Party of Lithuania since 1965:

  • 1965–1967, the minister of construction materials industry of Lithuanian SSR
  • 1967–1977, deputy chairman of State Planning Committee of Lithuanian SSR.
  • 1977–1987, secretary of Central Committee of Communist Party of Lithuania.

In 1988, he became the first secretary of the Communist Party of Lithuania. Under his leadership, the Communist Party of Lithuania supported the Lithuanian independence movement, broke away from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and transformed itself into social-democratic Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (now merged into the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party). Brazauskas was Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (head of state) from 15 January to 11 March 1990.

After the 1992 parliamentary elections, he became speaker of the parliament and acting President of Lithuania on 25 November 1992. He then won the presidential election with 60% of the vote, was confirmed as President on 25 February 1993, and served until 25 February 1998. He decided not to seek reelection, and retire, in 1998 and was succeeded by Valdas Adamkus, who won the 1998 election.

Retirement[edit]

Brazauskas said he planned to retire from politics and wanted to be "an ordinary pensioner." During the initial two years in retirement he wrote a book, though it was incomplete. He said he would continue writing it after his second stint in government. He also said he would finish "household work" and that he likes physical work. He added that "I have no estates, but the property I own needs to be put in good order." He wanted to live "in a way that other people live."[4]

Return to politics[edit]

He subsequently returned to politics saying he "always had something to do in life."[4]

This time he was Prime Minister from 3 July 2001, appointed by the parliament, until 1 June 2006, when his government resigned as President Valdas Adamkus expressed no confidence in two of the Ministers, formerly Labour Party colleagues of Brazauskas, over ethical principles.[5] His government resigned on 31 May 2006 after the large Labour Party left the governing coalition.[6] Brazauskas decided not to remain in office as acting Prime Minister, and announced that he was finally retiring from politics. He said "I tried to be a pensioner for several years, and I think I was successful. I hope for success this time, as well."[4]

He led the ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania for one more year, until 19 May 2007, when he passed the reins to Gediminas Kirkilas.[3] He served as the honorary chairman of the party, and remained an influential voice in party politics.[5]

Honours[edit]

Algirdas Brazauskas was honored with the various decorations, among others the Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain, Grand Cross Order of Vytautas the Great.[7] Days before his death Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded Brazauskas with the Order of Honour for his significant contribution to cooperation between Russia and Lithuania and good neighbourly relations.[8]

Brazauskas was an Honorary Member of The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation as well.

Illness and death[edit]

Brazauskas was diagnosed lymphatic cancer in December 2008.[9] He died on 26 June, 2010 after his battle with cancer.[10] At the time of his death, he was still considered an influential figure in Lithuanian politics, yet many citizens still criticized him because of stagnating economy during his presidency.[3]

Following his death the obituaries wrote of him that he had a "frame to match his indefatigable stature and a calm but commanding presence that could fill any stage."[11] His successor as president, Valdas Adamkus, said that he "dared to decide which side to choose in a critical moment." Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said "The memory of the first directly elected president of Lithuania after it restored its independence, of a strong and charismatic personality, will remain for a long time in the hearts of the Lithuanian people."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "First post-Soviet Lithuanian President Brazauskas dies". BBC. 26 June 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "Obituary: Algirdas Brazauskas". BBC News. 26 June 2010. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Algirdas Brazauskas". The Daily Telegraph (London). 27 June 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Baltic times article on resignation". Baltictimes.com. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 29 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ a b Lavaste, Laima (2010). "A.Brazauskas: viską dariau, kaip liepė sąžinė, protas ir širdis". Lietuvos rytas. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  6. ^ "Lithuanian Government Collapses – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 2010". Rferl.org. 31 May 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  7. ^ Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  8. ^ The Baltic Course – Балтийский курс (18 June 2010). "Medvedev awards Lithuania's ex-president Brazauskas Order of Honour :: The Baltic Course | Baltic States news & analytics". The Baltic Course. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  9. ^ "A.Brazauskas prabilo apie jį kamuojantį vėžį – DELFI Žinios". Delfi.lt. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. ^ a b "First post-Soviet Lithuanian President Brazauskas dies". tehran times. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  11. ^ "Algirdas Brazauskas obituary". Getsomenews.com. Archived from the original on 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Vytautas Landsbergis
as Chairman of the Supreme Council
President of Lithuania
1993–1998
Succeeded by
Valdas Adamkus
Preceded by
Eugenijus Gentvilas
Prime Minister of Lithuania
2001–2006
Succeeded by
Zigmantas Balčytis