Laurinkus. In the face of obvious danger, Lithuania gets moving

Zones of radioctive termination of the Astravyets nuclear power plant
Zones of radioctive termination of the Astravyets nuclear power plant

At the end of the year, two ideas emerged, which are worthy of spending time and energy. It is the Movement [Sąjūdis] against Astravyets and the National Untouchable Forest Support Foundation, Mečys Laurinkus wrote in

The beginning of the Movement against Astravyets was a memorandum presented by V. Landsbergis to the public on January 15, which was signed by 21 politicians and public figures, calling to not give up in the struggle against the nuclear threat, which emerged fifty kilometres away from Vilnius.

The movement is to operate as an association. The content of the association’s activities will still be clarified. Still, it is already clear that this should not be a gathering of shrugging out of hopelessness over the already built Astravyets NPP.

The world knows what Sąjūdis means in Lithuania if it acts purposefully. What and by what means will be sought will be written and discussed about yet, but for now, we should wait for the organisation itself to be founded.

There are those, who comment about such pursuits that “movement” was necessary regarding this already ten years ago and now nothing can be done other than worsening relations with Belarus.


Yes, over those ten years, there were many mistakes made in this area, and just as the memorandum says, a White Book of activity and inactivity should be written.

But this should be done not because we could finish reading the book and accompany this with lamentation or demands for someone’s penance. There is a need for memory in politics so that new mistakes aren’t made.

The most significant mistake would be resignation, which V. Landsbergis describes as capitulation. The story of Astravyets NPP is continuous. Three more planned blocks have yet to be built.

From how active our diplomacy will depend on whether energy flows from there to EU countries. It is not just a matter of the NPP’s security.

It is very important that the Lithuanian public would not just be an observer.

Such a passive position is partially understandable because information about Astravyets NPP is somewhat controversial even in Lithuania’s public space.

How can a joint opinion exist in such chaos?

The tasks that lay ahead

One of the most critical tasks for the association is to present to the public accurate, transparent, reviewed and not based on rumours information, on its basic form a position. Some wonder whether the movement’s position regarding the NPP will not clash with the view of Lithuania’s leaders. Everything depends on the wisdom of our top officials.

I believe that public impetus regarding an obvious threat could yield serious support to Lithuanian leaders in their international work. One can wish them luck.

Another event of the month close to me is the founding of the National Untouchable Forest Support Foundation.

The inspiration for the foundation was from Lithuanian Green Party chairman, World Bioenergy Association president, businessman R. Lapinskas.

The foundation’s goal is to expand the forested area of Lithuania, planting forests in new territories and replanting previously cut forests. The forests established by the foundations will never be cut for commercial purposes; on the contrary, the aim will be to develop the beginnings of a naturally growing forest.

These aims of the Movement against Astravyets are actively supported by artists J. Didžiulis, nature photographer M. Čepulis, conservationist S. Paltanavičius. A beautiful, idealistic project intended for my generation’s children and grandchildren – to begin growing an untouched forest, an integral part of the country’s spiritual culture in an era, where everything is not only touched but also destroyed.

No time to wait

According to R. Lapinskas, we must find agreement with the public and create a national strategy in the effort to achieve a balance between economic and the conservational, recreational, scientific, academic and informational use of forests. It is believed that the territory of untouched forests could reach 200 thousand hectares—a gift to future generations.

In response to the famous Swede G. Thunberg’s question whether we (our generation, which has been ruining nature) is not ashamed – yes, with the idea of such a foundation, definitely not.

Last year we marvelled at director M. Survila’s documentary Sengirė. The film presents a dramatic subtext of bidding farewell to a part of one’s spiritual heritage. For several decades now, we have been living with a sense of farewell. Farewell to hamlets (immortalised in literature, prose and poetry), to villages, townships and far – towns.

A farewell to nature

Finally a farewell to nature. S. Paltanavičius uses still living, not the synthetic language in news media to describe vanishing animal species. Children can no longer distinguish a pine from a fir.

I remember well one discussion, featuring guests from large Western cities when the Sąjūdis programme was written. The guests were insistent on not forgetting conservation because according to them, Lithuania is a land, where a natural relationship with nature remains and nature itself, compared to the asphalt of civilisation, has hardly been touched.

I remember working in Lithuania’s representation to Spain when three of five tourist requests were interested in staying in our country’s “green zone”.

It would be incorrect to say that Lithuanian governments did not understand and still do not understand the value of our most valuable treasure, but the commercial axe has worked and continues to work actively. Thus, the idea emerges to grow a forest. This is nothing new in the world. Such foundations exist in many countries. And they find supporters and enthusiasts. Let’s hope this is also the case in Lithuania.

How is the idea of this foundation close to the Movement against Astravyets? An old forest also grows next to the exploded Chernobyl.  But there, you might find mushrooms bigger than a human being and a fox with three tails.

Another similarity is that both the Movement against Astravyets and the foundation are appealing to the public, seeking its more active participation.

In one case it is an antagonistic, unwilling to yield to potential harm, in the other case – protecting and increasing what has been for centuries in Lithuania a part of its self.
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