People's Seimas

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People's Seimas
Liaudies Seimas
 Lithuanian SSR
Type
Type
History
Established July 1940
Disbanded August 1940
Preceded by Fourth Seimas of Lithuania
Succeeded by Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR
Elections
Last election
1940 (Rigged)
Meeting place
Kaunas

The People's Seimas (Lithuanian: Liaudies Seimas) was a puppet legislature organized in order to legitimate the occupation and annexation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union.[1] After the Soviet ultimatum in June 1940, a new pro-Soviet government was formed, known as the People's Government. The new government dismissed the Fourth Seimas and announced elections to the People's Seimas. After the rigged elections, the new parliament unanimously adopted a resolution proclaiming the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and petitioning for admission to the Soviet Union as a constituent republic. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR accepted the Lithuanian petition on August 3, 1940. The People's Seimas adopted a new constitution, a close copy of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, on August 25 and renamed itself to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR.

According to Lithuanian and Western sources, these events were merely a cover to create an illusion of constitutional legitimacy of the forcible Soviet occupation. When Lithuania declared its independence in 1990, it took the line that the actions of the People's Seimas—and indeed, the entire process of annexation—violated both Lithuanian and international law, and it was merely reasserting an independence that legally still existed. According to Soviet and Russian sources, the Lithuanian people, like the Estonians and the Latvians, had carried out a socialist revolution independent of Moscow's influence and had voluntarily requested admission into the USSR.

Background[edit]

According to the German–Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty, Lithuania was assigned to the Soviet sphere of influence. Almost immediately Lithuanian diplomats were invited to Moscow for negotiations. Soviets proposed the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty: Lithuania would receive a portion of Vilnius Region in exchange for Soviet bases within Lithuania. Similar pacts were already signed with Latvia and Estonia. Finland rejected similar proposal and the Soviets started the Winter War which delayed the occupation of the Baltic States. As the Winter War was over and Germany was winning the Battle of France, Soviets heightened their propaganda accusing Lithuania of abducting its soldiers from the bases in Lithuania and conspiring with Latvia and Estonia against the Soviet Union. On June 14, 1940 the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding to form a new pro-Soviet government and to allow unspecified number of the Red Army soldiers to enter Lithuanian territory.

Lithuania accepted the ultimatum and on June 15 the Red Army entered Lithuania unopposed. People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dekanozov arrived to supervise the process of the annexation of Lithuania.

President Antanas Smetona was forced into exile. Under the Constitution of 1938, Prime Minister Antanas Merkys became acting president. On 16 June, Merkys announced on a national radio broadcast that he had deposed Smetona and was now president in his own right. This action is now considered illegal and unconstitutional, since Smetona never resigned. Lithuania's official position is now that since Merkys' usurpation of the presidency was illegal, all subsequent actions leading up to the Soviet annexation were ipso facto void.

Merkys appointed a new pro-Soviet government headed by left-wing journalist Justas Paleckis. It later became known as the People's Government. Merkys resigned two days late at the behest of the Soviets, leaving Paleckis acting president. Writer Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius became the new Prime Minister. For all intents and purposes, Lithuania had lost its independence.

On June 27, Paleckis dissolved the Fourth Seimas of Lithuania, citing the Constitution of 1938.

Elections[edit]

On July 1, the Paleckis government announced elections to a new parliament, the People's Seimas, to be held on July 14. The Communist Party of Lithuania emerged from underground with 1500 members[2] after the Soviet invasion. Soon afterward, the government announced formation of the Union of the Working People of Lithuania, ostensibly a popular front. Voters were presented with a single list of candidates, including some non-Communists. No other organizations were allowed to participate. On July 11 and 12, the Soviet authorities reduced the possible points of opposition by arresting leading figures of the old regime and deporting some of them to the interior of the Soviet Union – even though Lithuania was still formally an independent state. Later elections were extended into July 15. Each voter had his or her passport stamped after voting. According to the official results, voter turnout reached 95% and the Union list received over 99% of the votes. Most of the original election records were destroyed. The remaining bits show that turnout was indeed high, but a lot of ballots were invalid (missing, destroyed, left blank, or marked with anti-Soviet slogans). The results were announced even before the polls closed—a classic sign of massive election fraud.

Annexation[edit]

The People's Seimas met on July 21, 1940. Its sole order of business was a resolution creating the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and requesting the Soviet Union to admit Lithuania into the Union. This resolution was passed by acclamation. Twenty representatives were to deliver the declaration to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR: acting President Justas Paleckis, Minister of the Interior Mečys Gedvilas, Minister of Agriculture Matas Mickis, Minister of Education Antanas Venclova, Minister of Defence and Commander of the Army Vincas Vitkauskas, former priest and chief control inspector Liudas Adomauskas, chairman of the trade unions Motiejus Šumauskas, Communist Party activists Karolis Didžiulis-Grosmanas and Icikas Meskupas-Adomas, writers Liudas Gira and Petras Cvirka, poetess Salomėja Nėris, Palanga mayor Stasė Vaineikienė, soldier Victoras Ditkevičius, farmers Juozas Demskis and Birutė Abdulskaitė, workers Kazys and Pranas Petrauskas, Pranas Zibertas, and Marija Kutraitė.[3] Each member of the delegation received 5,000 litas payment for their signatures, which was a substantial sum for that time.[4]

The Soviet Union approved the Lithuanian resolution on August 3, and the People's Seimas declared itself the provisional Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR.

References[edit]

  1. ^ International Political Science Association. Research Committee of Legislative Specialists; Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (1998). World encyclopedia of parliaments and legislatures. Congressional Quarterly. p. 409. ISBN 1-56802-365-0. In July Soviet authorities held a rigged election for a puppet legislature, the People's Parliament 
  2. ^ O'Connor, Kevin (2003). The history of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 117. ISBN 0-313-32355-0. 
  3. ^ Blaževičius, Kazys (2006-08-09). "Komedija, vadinta "Liaudies seimo rinkimais"". XXI amžius (in Lithuanian) 13 (129). 
  4. ^ Alekna, Viktoras (2004-12-05). "Apie S. Nėries gyvenimo vingius ir jos gyvenimo meiles" (in Lithuanian). Omni.lt.