Lithuania. At New Year, the oldest reactor in the
Ignalina nuclear power plant was closed. The second reactor
will be closed in 2009. The EU has called for shutdowns
because the reactors are of the same type as the Chernobyl
accident reactor. The decision has aroused opposition in Lithuania,
and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said in January that
the country intends to seek international assistance to
build and finance a new nuclear reactor in Ignalina.
countryaah, President Valdas Adamkus declined the invitation of his
Russian colleague Vladimir Putin to participate in the 60th
anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany
in May in Moscow. There was a strong political pressure in
Lithuania for Adamkus to stay home, as the end of World War II
marked the beginning of nearly half a century of Soviet
occupation in the Baltic States. The decision had a negative
impact on Lithuanian-Russian relations.
Yet another crisis in relation to Russia occurred when a
Russian fighter plane crashed outside Kaunas in September.
The head of the Lithuanian Air Force was dismissed,
according to media reports because of "inappropriate"
behavior in contacts with Russian representatives in
connection with the crash.
President Adamkus, during his visit to Germany in
October, strongly criticized Germany's and Russia's plans
for a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea, a project which
Adamkus says poses an environmental threat to the region.
Domestic political crisis threatened in the fall after
Prime Minister Brazauskas was accused of corruption. He was
suspected of having, during his time as president in the
1990s, influenced the privatization of a large hotel so that
his girlfriend and future wife were favored. The wife
eventually became the main owner of the hotel. The
opposition demanded parliamentary scrutiny, which made
Brazauskas threaten to resign. President Adamkus then called
on the ordinary judicial body to investigate the charges,
and a prosecutor in November launched a preliminary
investigation into the privatization of the hotel.
The site, which has been built from about the year 1000, became the center of
power in Lithuania in 1323 since Grand Duke Gediminas moved his residence there
from Trakai. During the 1300s, the city became a link in the Hanseatic chain of
trading cities in the Baltic Sea area. After the Polish-Lithuanian real union in
1569 and the founding of a Polish university in the city in 1579, Polish
influence increased. The large influx of Jews also gave Vilnius the nickname
"Jerusalem of Europe". Since Poland was divided a third time in 1795 and
disappeared from the map of Europe, Vilnius became the government and university
city in Russia.
Both in 1831 and 1863 the city was the center of the Polish insurgency
movements against the Tsarist regime. During World War I, Vilnius was occupied
by German troops from 1915 to 1918. After the German surrender and during the
subsequent Polish-Soviet war, the city was alternately occupied by Polish and
After Russia's collapse, Vilnius attacked Lithuania in 1920, but Poland also
claimed the city with the surrounding country. The day before a referendum
decided by the NF, Vilnius was conquered by superior Polish military forces, and
the city remained despite Polish Lithuanian protests throughout the interwar
Following Poland's fourth division and the outbreak of World War II in 1939,
the city was incorporated in 1940 with the Soviet Union as the capital of the
Lithuanian Soviet Republic. Of the approximately 200,000 residents who lived in
Vilnius when the German occupation began in July 1941, about 75,000 were Jews.
Persecution, starvation and disease in the city ghetto, as well as murders and
deportations to extermination camps, resulted in the death of only 2,000-3,000
when the Red Army entered Vilnius on July 13, 1944.
Since the fall of the Soviet state in 1991, Vilnius is again the capital of