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Liudas Mažylis, the man who on Wednesday found what is believed to be an original copy of Lithuania's Act of Independence of 1918 in Germany's archives, is described by his colleagues and students as a professor who loves details and is a passionate collector.
The original copy of Lithuania's Act of Independence of 1918 in Germany's archives and Prof Mažylis
The original copy of Lithuania's Act of Independence of 1918 in Germany's archives and Prof Mažylis
© DELFI montažas

A chemist by profession, Mažylis, 62, joined the Lithuanian liberation movement Sąjūdis in the early 1990s and in 1997 began to teach political science at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.

Born to a prominent family of Kaunas intellectuals, Mažylis returned to his native city after earning a diploma in chemistry at Vilnius University in 1997 and conducted scientific work at the Institute of Cardiology until Lithuania regained independence from the Soviet Union.

Mažylis was elected to the City Council of Kaunas in 1990 and later ran in several elections on the Christian Democrats' list.

"He is meticulous, precise. If I am said to be more a romantic, then he is more a realist. I knew that his hobbies included collecting stamps and old documents," Egidijus Vareikis, a lawmaker who has known Mažylis since the Sąjūdis era, told BNS.

Mažylis collects old postcards, stamps and books, as well as flyers and advertisements related to Sąjūdis' activities in Kaunas.

Andzej Pukšto, a colleague at Vytautas Magnus University, says that Mažylis' interests are much broader than just the political science disciplines he teaches.

"His roots are firmly planted in Kaunas and Lithuania's history, even though he is not a historian by career or profession. We often had conversations about relations between Lithuanians and Poles in Kaunas, about the interwar period and the beginning of the 20th century," he told BNS.

Aurimas Perednis, a radio journalist who attended Mažylis' lectures on the political party system, describes him as "a very calm, pedantic, intelligent, idea-driven and sincere person".

"He liked precision and concreteness and he would speak very clearly and loudly during the lectures. My fellow students have told me that Mažylis never refused to help when asked," he told BNS.

Šarūnas Liekis, dean of the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy and professor at the Department of Political Science at Vytautas Magnus University, says that it was Mažylis' idea to go to Berlin to search for the Act of Independence.

"It was his idea, his request. Vytautas Magnus University supported it and organized the trip. His meticulousness proved to be useful in the search," he told BNS.

Mazylis is married and has two daughters. He is a cycling enthusiast.

The professor found the Lithuanian-language copy of the Act of Independence of Feb. 16, 1918 with the original signatures in the German Foreign Ministry's archives in Berlin.

Lithuanian diplomats are making efforts to find out what legal status the document has and whether Vilnius could ask Berlin to return the document.

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