Secret Prisoner: The Paleckis Case May “Blow up” Far Beyond the Borders of Lithuania

Although the pre-trial investigation in the case of Algirdas Paleckis is over, no one is going to let him go. However, more and more people, both sympathetic to him and not so much, are trying to understand this story

While it is clear to sane people that there is a political crackdown against a fighter against the regime, and the “patriots” demand blood, a group of signatories who signed the Act of restoring Lithuania’s independence on March 11th 1990 signed an appeal to the Šiauliai district court to release Paleckis.

The initiator of the appeal, signed by more than 60 speakers, including current members of the Seimas, is Egidijus Bičkauskas. According to him, Paleckis’ activity, no matter how it was related to the provisions of the Criminal Code, had nothing to do with “espionage”. In this respect, his imprisonment is neither legal nor fair. Indeed, this is incompatible with Lithuania’s claim to “freedom and democracy”.

Realizing this, the appeal was signed by others-representatives of both the left and right political spectrum of Lithuania: Vytenis Andriukaitis, Česlovas Juršėnas, Gediminas Vagnorus, Niyole Ozhelite, and even Mečys Laurinkus, conservative Emanuelis Zingeris, and many others. But although the statement is the same for everyone, the reasons for signing it are certainly different.

For example, Kęstutis Girnius, a Professor of the Institute of International Relations and political science at Vilnius University, who also signed the document, was one of the first “system” figures to express his support for Paleckis. Not political or ideological, but simply human, since Girnius, as it can be seen from his articles, does not doubt that it’s an evident and absurd legal farce, which in its illegality and injustice in many ways reminiscent of the previous case of Egle Kusaite.

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Others, for example Nijolė Oželytė, emphasise that they don’t feel the slightest sympathy for him. According to them, the latter’s imprisonment simply discredits the current regime and its aforementioned claims. Moreover, that the current situation may not only “serve Russia”, but may even result in Paleckis’ own appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and by his victory in the case against the Republic of Lithuania.

Especially Oželytė, as well as other figures of the conservative flank, is haunted by the theme of the events of January 13th 1991. They are afraid most of all that the famous phrase attributed to Paleckis “their own opened fire at their own” is spread among people more widely. Indeed, this peculiar Lithuanian “Dreyfus story” of the XXI century threatens to discredit historically, if not completely, then at least partially – and certainly noticeably – the zoological anti-Soviet and Russophobic regime of Lithuania that has existed for 30 years.

This point should not be underestimated. A more serious prosecution against Paleckis was initiated when he spoke on the radio about the widely discussed circumstances of the events of January 13th, both in Russia and in other countries – about the contribution of Gene Sharp, his students and other technologists of the colour revolution to the-then events in the Baltic States, the Caucasusm and other Soviet republics that went along the path of separatism.

Since in the case of Paleckis “espionage” is considered to be the collection of publicly available data, this case is really scandalous. Nevertheless, there was no protest against it from the “top” either in Lithuania or in the West. At the international level, only representatives of the Russian Federation identified the situation and condemned the position of the Lithuanian authorities. In one word, the representatives of the state that is being vilified every day in our country and whose alleged “spy” was Paleckis.

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The very appeal of the mentioned group of signatories, on the one hand, raises the situation with Paleckis to the surface, and on the other – shows the concern of some layers of the political elite. And there is something to worry about, especially if we look into the future. The foundations of the Western order, which was established both in the EU and after the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, are already cracking. In a ten-year perspective, change is not only possible, but inevitable. Including geopolitical ones. From this point of view, Paleckis can be very inconvenient.

According to his views, he undoubtedly belongs to the camp of those who seek both adequate relations between Lithuania and Russia and the real restoration of the country’s sovereignty. Only last year he showed that he can be a leader among these layers. The ongoing persecution, as well as his illegal imprisonment, which began in 2018 and is not known when it will end, undoubtedly creates from Paleckis a kind of aura of a martyr, a true fighter against the system.

From the point of view of the motives of the appeal itself, we can talk about the concern of some figures for freedom of speech and simple human solidarity, as well as about the possible political despair of some others, not so much about their own reputation, but about the reputation of the regime itself. Of course, the influence of Paleckis’ father, one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, Justas Paleckis, who seeks to help his son, is not excluded. But this is just speculation, although it is clear that the statement is there and that it has an objective political significance.

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And this value is positive. Indeed, whether it is human decency or concerns about the legitimacy of the current regime and international authority: this very fact shows that the Paleckis case is not just another small thing that you can pass by calmly and indifferently. As a well-known political prisoner, Paleckis exposes the regime, and we can be sure that the upcoming public court sessions will not be held in vain, that Paleckis will again and again expose the essence of the pseudo-democratic regime.

For this, let’s thank him.


Jurgis Nevėžietis

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