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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Vytautas Landsbergis

Interviewed June 19, 2024

The spirit of the strive for freedom prevailed. And when the situation became different, due to failures and bankruptcy of Soviet Union in the ´80s of the last century — the liberation movements appeared or had been established in the three Baltic countries. Which never recognized or understood themselves as part of Soviet Union or Soviet republics. Sometimes falsely called, even, such terms. And that only as occupied countries (occupied by Soviet Union) and to share the hope that it is not forever.

So in the ´80s, after the Soviet Union began to seek some reform, some change, how to avoid total bankruptcy– there were the so-called reforms of Gorbachev. [Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – ) served as the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 – 1991 and as President of the Soviet Union from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991.] We used that opportunity [to form] freedom movements, liberation movements. In Latvia and Estonia, [it was] called the Popular Front. In Lithuania, it was called Lithuanian Sajudis.

Sajudis means a movement, a mass movement. [Sajudis, meaning “movement” in Lithuanian, was a civil society organization formed in 1988 to advocate the restoration of the country’s independence from the USSR.] And very soon the goals– political programs were established. At first we went [with the] official slogans of restructuring, no, first reforming the Soviet Union. But having in mind the structuring of it until a right to have a free choice about our own destiny, about our own future, will be achieved and implemented.

For us, it was the continuity of the same Second World War and the status of occupied country was again the status of a continued war. And not a result yet, as our friends and influential politicians of Western democracies used to state about our new drive for freedom; that until the Baltics are free, the Second World War is not finished.

That was very supportive. It was real stance of ours. What we wanted to insist, also, in a context with Soviet leadership — at the first stage of Sajudis movement we went to work in a new body of Soviet Union; the Congress of People´s Deputies which was partly elected. In Lithuania it was democratically elected in competitive elections, And early spring of 1989, in which the Sajudis movement competed against the Communist party— the local Communist party, [winning seats] in a proportion of 36 to six. It was our way from first independent republic to the second independent republic, established after Sajudis won a national landslide victory in Lithuania, in the spring of 1990.

And 11th of March of 1990, the new, duly democratically elected parliament, with a feeling that it has a national mandate of our people to decide and to resolve that long-lasting status of an occupied country — perhaps we call it a colony of the Soviet empire, we went to the way of open confrontation with Kremlin.