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Vilnija is a Lithuanian political organization, considered to be extremist[1][2][3] and nationalist.[4][5][6][7]

History and policies[edit]

The organization was formed in 1988, in the LSSR, by Lithuanian nationalists and communists[8] and its primary aim was the Lithuanization[9] of ethnic Poles living in the Eastern part of Lithuania. The organization is mostly composed of ethnic Lithuanians although it was later joined by a marginal token Polish organization, the Association of St. Zita (Stowarzyszenie Św. Zyty).[5] The organization was created by Romualdas Ozolas[3] and has been led for many years by Kazimieras Garšva.[2][7][10] Its program, elaborated in a monograph by Garšva,[11] is based on their belief that the Polish minority in Lithuania are in fact Polonized Lithuanians and that their true identity had been erased by years of foreign occupation.[9] To counter such situation, the organization proposed that they should be brought back to their Lithuanian roots by removing any trace of alien (that is, Polish or Russian) textbooks, teachers, symbols and traditions.[9] The organization's goal is also to counter perceived growing Polish influence in Lithuania, which Vilnija sees as a threat to that nation.[9]

The organization is known for controversial actions and statements. In June 1999, it signed a petition defending Aleksandras Lileikis, the former head of Vilnius branch of Lithuanian Security Police (a Lithuanian Nazi-sponsored collaborationist police force that operated from 1941 to 1944),[12] accused of extermination of Jews and collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War.[1] Vilnija has been seen by Polish government and media to often organize or support anti-Polish actions[3][5][10] and the academic works of its leader, the philologist Kazimieras Garšva, have been very negatively received by Polish government,[13][14] media,[15][16][17] and on occasion criticized by the Lithuanian government as well.[18]

Specific controversies[edit]

Vilnija takes an interest in the political situation of the Lithuanians of the Vilnius region. Vilnija asserts that former Polish autonomists, who it claims illegally attempted to determine the political autonomy of Poles on May 22, 1991, are still in authority in the Election Action of Lithuania's Poles Party (active in the districts with Polish majority— Vilnius district and Šalčininkai district) and have not yet received what is sees as a proper legal judgment for their anti-constitutional actions.[19] Vilnija says the Election Action of Lithuania's Poles party discourages the assimilation of the national minorities of Lithuania and constantly tries to present the Polish minority as prosecuted.[20]

Vilnija often voices concern about the situation of Lithuanian schools in the areas of Polish minority.[21][22] According to Vilnija, the local government propagates Polish schools at the expense of Lithuanian schools.[21][22]

Vilnija is also active in the campaign against allowing members of Polish minority in Lithuania to be able to spell their names with a Polish alphabet in official documents.[23]

Members and supporters[edit]

Prominent members and supporters of the organization include its long-time leader, Kazimieras Garšva,[24] Seimas deputy and organization's founder Romualdas Ozolas,[3] and writer Izidorius Šimelionis.[25]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cas Mudde (2005). Racist Extremism in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge (UK). p. 151. ISBN 0-415-35593-1. 
  2. ^ a b (Polish) Gazeta Wyborcza, 2001-02-14, Litewska prokuratura przesłuchuje weteranów AK (Lithuanian prosecutor questioning AK veterans), last accessed on 7 June 2006]
  3. ^ a b c d Leonardas Vilkas, LITEWSKA, ŁOTEWSKA I ESTOŃSKA DROGA DO NIEPODLEGŁOŚCI I DEMOKRACJI: PRÓBA PORÓWNANIA (Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Way to Independence: An Attempt to Compare], on homepage of Jerzy Targalski, professor of University of Warsaw
  4. ^ Karolina Bielenin, dr Jarosław Tomasiewicz. "Polish Minority in Lithuania". zaKORZENIEnie. Stowarzyszenie na rzecz Wielości Kultur. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  5. ^ a b c Paweł Cieplak. "Polsko-litewskie stosunki (Polish-Lithuanian affairs)". Lithuanian Portal (in Polish). Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  6. ^ Katarzyna Zuchowicz. "Pół wieku z polskim słowem (Half a Century With a Polish Word)". Rzeczpospolita (in Polish) (2003–07–16). Retrieved 2007-01-13. , cited on the official page of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  7. ^ a b Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (October 2006). ""Ustawa o języku państwowym" (Statue on national language) - commentary on Vincas Urbutis article "Debaty nad ustawą o języku (Debates on the Language Act) "". Lietuvos Aidas, 04 – 07.10; Media zagraniczne o Polsce (Foreign Media on Poland) (in Polish). XV (200/37062). Retrieved 2006-01-20. 
  8. ^ Jozef Darski, "Stosunki litewsko - polskie"
  9. ^ a b c d Dovile Budryte (2005). Taming Nationalism?: Political Community Building in the Post-Soviet Baltic States. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 147–148. ISBN 0-7546-3757-3. 
  10. ^ a b Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (October 2006). ""Antypolski tekst K. Garsvy" (Anti-polish text by K. Garsva)". Commentary on K.Garsva article "Kiedy na Wileńszczyźnie będzie wprowadzone zarządzanie bezpośrednie? (When Vilnius region will have direct self-government?)"". Lietuvos Aidas, 11 -12.10; Media zagraniczne o Polsce (Foreign Media on Poland) (in Polish). XV (200/37062). Retrieved 2006-01-20. 
  11. ^ Kazimieras Garšva (1990). Pietryciu Lietuvos autonomijos klausimai (Questions on the Autonomy of South-Eastern Lithuania) (in Lithuanian). Chicago: Eksperimentines Technikos. 
  12. ^ United States Department of Justice (1996-06-26). "Court Revokes U.S. Citizenship of Former Security Police Official". Retrieved 2006-06-09. 
  13. ^ Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (March 2005). ""Armia Krajowa na Litwie - ślepa uliczka historii" - cd". Media zagraniczne o Polsce (Foreign Media on Poland) (in Polish). XIV (2539/3292). Retrieved 2006-01-15. 
  14. ^ Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (September 2004). "Dr Garsva - prezes nacjonalistycznego stowarzyszenia Vilnija (...)". Media zagraniczne o Polsce (Foreign Media on Poland) (in Polish). XIII (2409 (3162)). Retrieved 2006-01-15. 
  15. ^ "Uknuli prowokację". Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny (in Polish). November 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  16. ^ Robert Mickiewicz (March 2005). "Antypolski film w litewskiej telewizji". Rzeczpospolita (in Polish). 62 (15.03.2005). Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  17. ^ various authors (2005). "Press Review 2005-03-15". Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs homepage (in Polish). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  18. ^ Vincas Urbutis (October 2005). Lietuvos Aidas (in Lithuanian) (4/07–10–2005).  Missing or empty |title= (help), as cited in: various authors (2005). "Press Review 2005-03-15". Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs homepage (in Polish). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Retrieved 2007-03-06. 
  19. ^ Autonomininkai diktuoja sąlygas (the autonomists dictate the terms)
  20. ^ Geresnio gyvenimo troškulys (The thirst for a better life)
  21. ^ a b Už augantį lenkiškų mokyklų mokinių skaičių politikai gauna premijas (The politicians receive premiums for the growing number of the pupils of the Polish schools)
  22. ^ a b Ministrės pečius užgulė Vilniaus krašto mokyklų problemos (The problems of the schools of Vilnius region shouldered by the minister)
  23. ^ (Polish) Stowarzyszenie „Vilnija" przeciw polskiej pisowni nazwisk w litewskich dokumentach, BIULETYN POLONIJNY MINISTERSTWA SPRAW ZAGRANICZNYCH, Numer 2 /2009 Luty 2009 r.
  24. ^ Budryte, Dovile, "Taming Nationalism" Ashgate Publishing, 2005, pg. 148 [1]
  25. ^ (Polish) Algis Kasperavičius, Współcześni historycy litewscy o sprawie Wilna i stosunkach polsko-litewskich w latach 1918-1940 oraz zmiany w potocznej świadomości Litwinów'', in Historycy polscy, litewscy i białoruscy wobec problemów XX wieku Historiografia polska, litewska i białoruska po 1989 roku, Krzysztof Buchowski i Wojciech Śleszyński (ed.), Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku, 2003