Members of the Mission Siberia 16 expedition team
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

The Mission Siberia project team lead by Arnoldas Fokas has left for Igarka in the Krasnoyarsk region on Sunday evening, where one of the largest Lithuanian exiles cemeteries is located.

“This year the expedition will be slightly different: there will be less travelling, but the tasks are slightly bigger than in the previous missions - to save one of the largest Lithuanian cemetery in Siberia. This is an enormous task,” said Ignas Rusilas, the head of the charity fund Jauniems which organises Mission Siberia.

Expedition leader Fokas said that usually the Mission Siberia team would go to the southern part of Siberia, but this time they are travelling to a town above the Arctic Circle.

“There are no jobs in Igarka, everyone is trying to leave. Most of the exiles leave when the opportunity comes. Many of them have returned to Lithuania after it announced its independence. I have communicated with the former Igarka mayor Elena Kigiene. She has also left Igarka and lives in another part of Russia,” said Fokas.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 Lithuanians were deported to Igarka in 1948.

Most of them worked in the wood industry but Igarka Lithuanians formed a strong community there with dancing and song ensembles, even setting up sports teams.

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