Rūta Vanagaitė
Rūta Vanagaitė
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

The largest scandal of this week – Rūta Vanagaitė's statement that Lithuanian independence fighter and one of the leaders of the post-war resistance movement Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas was a KGB agent, an individual who glorified the Soviet Union. She apparently makes this claim based on a file from the KGB archives.

The inhuman injuries the resistance leader experienced during interrogation were, according to R. Vanagaitė, his own attempt at suicide, self injury. R. Vanagaitė continued on to state that it could be possible for the resistance leader to have also been a participant in the Holocaust process. The head of the Wiesenthal Centre, who she described as her significant other, Efraim Zuroff, who even attempted to convince the Seimas Commission of Historical Memory to not declare 2018 the year of A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas, is of the same opinion. Next year the birth centenary of the incarcerated and tortured to death Lithuanian freedom fighter leader, brigadier general, who was awarded with the Order of the Grand Grand Cross of Vytis posthumously in 1999, will be marked.

R. Vanagaitė has been condemned not only by a large portion of the public, the publishing house Alma Littera has also announced it is cancelling its agreement with her and removing all the author's books from sale, the retail chain Maxima has also declared it will cease sales of her books.

Nemira Pumprickaitė interviewed the Lithuanian military Department of Strategic Communication analyst Auksė Ūsienė regarding the scandalous event on the LRT Television show Savaitė.

With R. Vanagaitė having earlier released a book suggesting that every Lithuanian family had Jew killers and now attempting to discredit a leader of the resistance, a well-known and respected individual, A. Ūsaitė notes that this second case is a step across a red line. "Firstly we must understand that this is a part of the large information war, the large information operation – to slander our highest resistance fighter leadership, discredit the resistance struggle. And in our opinion R. Vanagaitė stands at the forefront of the information war," the analyst stated, adding that while State Security Department officers may be able to talk more on the topic, Russia seeks individuals who could perform destructive activities in their target countries and this appears to be such a case.

Regarding the author's companion E. Zurof, he is apparently known to be a member of the Russian organisation World Without Nazism, with Algirdas Paleckis also being a member. "The organisation World Without Nazism is strongly supported by Russia. Of course it is not our competence to review these links – whether they are linked to any Russian secret services or not, but various questions could arise. Everyone makes their own conclusions and when you know the Russian KGB and its successors' operational methods, I personally have few question," A. Ūsienė said.

The analyst believes the scandal is strongly linked to the aims to declare next year, the year of A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas, which is also his centenary. She believes that if there were actual facts and any truth to the claims, the authorities should have been contacted, rather than present assertions, likely in an attempt to shift voting in Seimas.

"I believe that it [the claims] are certainly intentional. It is easiest to compromise the freedom fighter leadership. If you compromise it, apply certain tags, cause doubts – that's it, why do anything against common freedom fighters, against simple village boys who went to the forests.

Because if the leadership is Nazis, fascists and Jew killers, it means so is the entire freedom movement. Yes, [R. Vanagaitė] is throwing a rock at the entire freedom movement, but there is a very conscious attempt to compromise the whole partisan leadership. It is not only A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas. We have already noticed accusations from such controversial figures in Lithuania toward Žemaitis [J. Žemaitis-Vytautas] that he was supposedly a supervisor at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland during Nazi occupation. This is completely baseless. The people cannot defend themselves, they are dead, there is no-one to defend them. Who can do it if not ourselves?" A. Ūsienė stated.

She emphasised the decisions by Alma Littera and Maxima to cease sale of the author's controversial books was purely a civic statement when all limits have been overstepped and the reputations of individuals who had laid their lives down for the country's statehood and for free speech were being tarnished.

A. Ūsienė presented another example of such attempts to discredit the freedom fighters' leadership, pointing out how in July one Russian broadcaster featured a claim that one of the most famous freedom fighters J. Lukša-Daumantas was a Jew killer, who supposedly once decapitated a rabbi.

"Just imagine what lows are reached, in this case it is a broadcast aimed at the Russian audience in an attempt to portray that we are all Nazis, killers, holocaust collaborators and that we celebrate such figures.

We monitor such cases and believe that if there is yet another important date or jubilee, these supposed facts would be pulled out as if a rabbit out of a hat. It is not just the case regarding A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas, it is an attempt to compromise the entirety of the chief freedom fighter leadership," the analyst concluded.

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