A RIOT IN LITHUANIA

MIROSŁAW PIOTROWSKI

‘Lithuania! My Homeland! you are like health’.

This is, certainly, the beginning of ‘Invocation’ from ‘Pan Tadeusz’. The Polish bard loved Lithuania and Vilnius, which he had left going on emigration. And one could think that Adam Mickiewicz had never been to Warsaw! Maybe it was good. He saved himself from nervousness. Józef Piłsudski also came from the areas of Vilnius, but he preferred physical solutions – vide the First Brigade, revolt of Żeligowski, a coup in May or Kartre’s Berez.

At present Lithuania is a sovereign country. Poles living there are a kind of the minority as not the immigrant but the native one. They succeeded in what the Polish diaspora in other countries can be envious of. They are well-organized and indivisible. For the time being, as Polish diplomats have just decided to end with this idyll. By no means in a diplomatic way, but by force. They simply began a riot in Lithuania. ‘I feel insulted, accused, humiliated and I cannot see any possible cooperation with these clerks, despite my love to Poland’ – these were words said by the chairman of the Union of Poles in Lithuania, Michał Mackiewicz who has been holding this post for sixteen years. He has just been elected for the next cadency. However, a day before his being elected, he had been called to the Polish Embassy in Vilnius, where an ambassador told him: ‘As the representatives of the Polish country, this is my duty to say that you cannot be a candidate’. ‘What diplomacy is it?!’ – Mr. Mackiewicz was outraged. That is true, no explanations and they were talking for about one and a half minute. As it turned out, the issue concerned erroneous entries which had been in a report by the Main Management Board of the Union of Poles in Lithuania in the East of the superior of the Foundation ‘Help to Poles in the East’ one and a half year ago. When it was found out that it had been a mistake, workers of the Union of Poles in Lithuania were not allowed to make any correction. So, at once they returned the means to Poland. And they were intended for financing the Polish press in Lithuania.

However, it was not enough for the foundation which decided, in the opinion of the Lithuanian Polish Diaspora, to settle the issue politically. It reported the issue to the Polish procurators, whereas they were delaying it for a year. Before the meeting the chairman of the Union of Poles in Lithuania received a notification from the Warsaw procurators that he had been suspected of deception and was to be interviewed. I am not a lawyer, so I asked other procurators for advice, who got shocked. One of them said that in his times such a situation had been unimaginable, but maybe something in law had changed. The Polish procurator could not call a citizen of another country who is also a Lithuanian parliamentarian and protects immunity there. In the opinion of most Poles living in Lithuania, the issue is impossible and has a political overtone. As I said in one of interviews, reporting against the Union of Poles in Lithuania by the Polish authorities is a brutal attempt of dividing Poles in Lithuania, which has not been successful for the Lithuanian authorities so far. It is really a curiosity. Poles, who have been fighting for keeping Polishness, Polish language, schools, names of streets for years, harassed by the Lithuanian authorities, were hoping for a friendly attitude, support and protection of the Polish authorities. Now they will have to protect themselves from the Polish authorities using their Lithuanian citizenship and Lithuania immunity, as Mr. Mackiewicz said. Poles in the Lithuanian Seym have eight representatives which is 6 per cent of the Chamber. 10 thousand Poles belong to the Union of Poles in Lithuania. Those who started the riot, are, certainly aware of it, so they should be dismissed by the Polish authorities at once.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 23/2018 (10 VI 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl