A. M. Brazauskas’ old guard and their true faces

Indrė Makaraitytė
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

What was and is the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party? A party, whose leader Gintautas Paluckas has just announced that with party veterans having withdrawn or being removed, an era has ended and his critics have rushed to declare that he thinks too highly of himself.

Who are these people – Gediminas Kirkilas, Juozas Bernatonis, even young Andrius Palionis, whose way to the Social Democrat Party was paved by his late father Juozas Palionis, Antanas Vinkus and Algirdas Butkevičius, who oddly joined these individuals? Well a few female politicians as well – Irena Šiaulienė and Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė.

G. Paluckas is only creating his story, it can go either way, both very successfully and not. Equally as the Social Democrat manifesto’s path toward leftist ideals. However it is artificial and even laughable to call this party a leftist one.

What in common with leftist values do the less well known figures who also left the Social Democrat Party have? Foreign Vice Ministers Neris Germanas and Darius Skusevičius, advisor to minister Linas Linkevičius Domas Petrulis or advisor to the minister of justice Nerijus Jukna?

Nothing. Only that the LSDP was a guarantee for their careers. But they are exactly the face of the real Lithuanian Social Democrat Party.

Overall talks about leftist and rightist parties in the Lithuanian public sphere are superficial because we are still comparing to European parties, but ours are from a completely different make. If people in Lithuania voted through several generations, the grandfather, father, now perhaps even the son, they voted not for leftist values, but for A. M. Brazauskas and what was linked to him. Because A. M. Brazauskas had just as much in common with leftist values, as the communist party, particularly in the middle or end of its rule, was leftist.

It was not a party. It was an apparatus. And the LSDP neither war, nor is a leftist party. It is an apparatus.

While during the commemorations of A. M. Brazauskas’ birth or death there is a pathos nigh equivalent to beatification and for hardly understandable reasons the national broadcaster has worked diligently regarding this question, he did not operate as the president or prime minister of a democratic state in Lithuania. Yes, he learned the new game rules, adhered to them in public, but he ruled with the help of the apparatus. And in this context he was very consistent, a consistent leader of the apparatus. A constant emphasis, talking about state stability and specialist ministers was also an integral functional part of this consistency.

A. M. Brazauskas firmly held the economy in his hand through his people. For example the gas sector was under the now nearly forgotten Anicetas Ignotas. Lithuanian Railways head Stasys Dailydka was appointed namely by A. M. Brazauskas. The stability of the state was guaranteed by specialist ministers as well, however according to A. M. Brazauskas’ understanding, they were completely different to what Ramūnas Karbauskis and Saulius Skvernelis are going on about today.

R. Karbauskis was likely told about the specialist ministers by his father, while S. Skvernelis bought a package deal for authority and is left with nothing else to do, but stay silent.

Yes, A. M. Brazauskas’ specialist ministers were specialists of their spheres: land reclamation, road laying or healthcare. But based on the understanding of the time, they were managers in their spheres, based on party affiliation and politicians, if you will. And when appointed to their posts they did not get shocked by novelties, nor did they make mistakes for half a year.

Who was Neris Germanas to A. M. Brazauskas, now demonstratively withdrawing from the Social Democratic Party? 1988-1989 he was the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee (LPK CK) deputy secretary. Then the advisor of President A. M. Brazauskas. Afterward, as a figure in the apparatus, he was everything the apparatus needed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What about Juozas Bernatonis? He started as a communist youth activist, then an instructor in the LPK CK Department of Science and Education Institutions, 1993-1996 he was the deputy of Seimas Speaker Česlovas Juršėnas. In 1997-1998 – political advisor to President Algirdas Brazauskas. Minister of the Interior in the A. Brazauskas cabinet in 2001-2003. Domestic policy advisor to Prime Minister A. Brazauskas, later chief advisor to Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas. Not a step away from A. M. Brazauskas.

As for Gediminas Kirkilas? In 1988 he was the press representative for LKP CK chairman A. M. Brazauskas, later his first deputy as LDDP chairman, assistant to A. M. Brazauskas as Supreme Council Reconstituent Seimas member.

Antanas Vinkus’ career during the Soviet era was strongly linked to A. M. Brazauskas, hw was a highly ranked specialist in the healthcare system. Politician or manager, if you wish. A specialist minister. As for J. Palionis, A. Palionis’ father, who was handed his homeland, electoral district and high position in the Social Democrat Party, was the secretary of the Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Infrastructure College and later – an instructor at the Agriculture and Food Industry Department.

A. Butkevičius is fairly suited to this company based on A. M. Brazauskas because he rose from a regular insignificant Social Democrat up to A. M. Brazauskas himself. He was the latter’s specialist minister.

What G. Kirkilas says today, that he cares about state stability and that he cannot vote against the “Farmers'” poverty budget, I try to translate and understand what he is actually thinking. And most likely G. Kirkilas is thinking that the Social Democrat Party is no longer an apparatus party because the apparatus individuals lost their positions in it.

Authority was grasped by regular plebeians who have neither understanding of state governance, nor abilities, nor experience. Writing a leftist manifesto is, ok, a few days’ work when good sounding sentences need to be formed. Ruling a country and controlling resources was never allowed for the little goslings.

When J. Bernatonis says that he is a social democrat at heart, but the leftist manifesto is not his, as a real social democrat, flag, then his understanding of social democracy also has to be interpreted. The same thing is said by I. Šiaulienė. The apparatus individuals have after all never operated on ideology, even when they wrote and defended dissertations with catchy names. Membership in the Communist Party was a mandatory cover to work in the apparatus. Membership in the LSDP was mandatory because this was the new rule of the apparatus. Dictated by new realities, so-called democracy.

Thus yes, in a certain sense an era is ending. The apparatus’ figures simply became old. They no longer have the strength to fight, their ranks are thinning, strength waning. However they are being replaced by a different woe of Lithuania. New people who are either without values, without any moral scruples or without abilities or understanding of what they must do.

One could of course say that this is the real contribution of the apparatus which usurped the country or A. M. Brazauskas, just no truly appreciated for what it actually is. But in no way does it excuse the incompetence and greed of Lithuanian political movements because the alternative to them and the apparatus we are currently seeing at its most horrifying. When no-one, other than perhaps individual ministers has any idea, neither what their goal is in this melancholy, nor that their supposed backing is dancing in Seimas according to the fickle moods of R. Karbauskis.

And G. Kirkilas is right – the country is truly in danger.

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