A rich cultural heritage with ancient roots
has been kept alive in Lithuania to a greater extent
than in most other parts of Europe. Among other things,
over half a million Lithuanian folk songs have been
recorded. There is great interest in folk music, folk
dance and other forms of peasant culture.
The most important poem in Lithuanian is the long
hexameter poem The Seasons of Kristijonas Donelaitis,
who was a Protestant priest in Prussia in the mid-18th
century. The seasons are in Swedish translation.
Latest population statistics of Lithuania, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Lithuania's most famous painter and composer,
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), is
considered one of the first abstract painters. His work
can be seen at the Čiurlionism Museum in Kaunas.
Cultures other than the Lithuanian language have also
flourished in the present Lithuanian territory. Many
Jewish cultural figures originate in Lithuania, for
example violinist Jascha Haifetz. Two of Poland's
foremost writers, the nationalist Adam Mickiewicz and
Czesław Miłosz (Nobel Laureate 1980), were born and
raised in Lithuania.
During the post-war period, culture became a tool for
resistance to Soviet power, despite the fact that
cultural life was under tight political control. In
particular, the Lithuanian theater experienced an
artistic upswing in the 1970s and 1980s and has also
gained appreciation abroad. Best known among
contemporary Lithuanian writers is the lyricist Tomas
Venclova, who now lives in the United States. Venclova,
the poet Marcelijus Martinaitis (1936–2013) and the
proseist Romualdas Granauskas (1939–2014) are among
those translated into Swedish.
In the younger generation of Lithuanian writers,
Jurga Ivanauskaitė (1961–2007) is the most noted. Her
challenging novel The Witch and the Rain has been
translated into several languages. Other significant
names are the lyricist and proseist Renata Šerelytė
(1970–) as well as the playwright Marius Ivaškevičius
Lithuania has a rich music and art life. The country
has a number of symphony and chamber orchestras, some of
which are world class. The conductor Saulius Sondeckis
(1928–2016) has achieved great international success.
Osvaldas Balakauskas is the most renowned postwar
composer. There is also a strong singing and choral
tradition. Lithuania also has some of Europe's leading
Prosecution is brought for shooting deaths in 1991
Prosecutions are brought against 66 Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian
citizens for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with Soviet
soldiers shooting 13 civilians during the Lithuanian liberation struggle in
1991. More than 1,000 people were also injured when soldiers stormed the TV
tower in Vilnius in January 1991. The then Soviet leader Michail Gorbachev is
considered in Lithuania to have carried a great responsibility for the killing
by not preventing the attack. However, he is not prosecuted for lack of
Russian investigation provokes anger
Lithuania and its neighboring countries react with anger to the fact that the
Russian Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into whether the
independence of the Baltic States is legal. The inquiry is being carried out at
the request of two MPs for the United Russia Power Party, which describes the
Soviet Union's recognition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's independence as
treason. Baltic leaders say the measure is absurd but an example of the new
imperialist attitude that characterizes today's Russia.
Russia is accused of disrupting electricity imports from Sweden
Lithuania accuses the Russian Navy of interfering with the work of laying a
power cable under the Baltic Sea between Sweden and the Lithuanian port of
Klaipéda. The electricity cable will reduce Lithuania's energy dependence on
Russia. Similar complaints have been made from Sweden.
Suspected Russian spy arrested
A Russian citizen who is described as an agent for the FSB security service
is being arrested for suspected spying. According to the Prosecutor's Office, he
must have tried to infiltrate state decision-making bodies, the judiciary and
the security service.
Russian TV broadcasts are banned
The government bans broadcasts from the Russian-language TV channel RTR
Planeta for three months, citing it "spreading dissent, war propaganda and
angular information". The channel is registered in Sweden, but the programs are
produced by a Russian-owned company.
The government wants to strengthen the defense
The government presents a plan to raise defense spending by a third in 2016.
Lithuania has never lived up to NATO's demand that 2 percent of the state budget
should go to defense since the country joined the defense alliance. The proposed
increase reaches up to 1.46 percent. It is Russia's intervention in Ukraine that
has led the government to rethink.
American gas replaces Russian
Lithuania concludes agreement to import liquefied gas from the United States
to reduce dependence on gas supplies from Russia. In October 2014, Lithuania's
first liquid gas terminal was opened in the port city of Klaipéda.
Weapons to Ukraine annoy Moscow
Russia accuses Lithuania of violating its own arms export laws by sending
arms to the government of Ukraine. The Government of Lithuania says that arms
deliveries did not violate any rules and that they were small and open.
Limited military duty is reintroduced
Lithuania decides to reintroduce military service, albeit to a limited
extent. As of September, the President and the Defense Council decide to convene
approximately 3,000 men aged 19-27 per year to a nine-month military training.
Parliament must approve the decision before it can enter into force. Like the
other Baltic states, Lithuania feels threatened by the more aggressive Russian
foreign policy of the past year.
Russia releases fishermen
A Russian court releases a Lithuanian fishing boat and its crew (see
September 2014), which has been detained in Murmansk for over four
months. The Lithuanian shipping company pays over half a million in fines and
acknowledges that the crew mistakenly engaged in illegal crab fishing in Russian
waters, but claims that it is because the regional fisheries authority has not
informed that the boundary for the economic zones in the area has changed.
Information campaign on war
The Ministry of Defense is handing out an information brochure to the
country's high schools on how civilians should behave if the country were to go
to war and occupied by a foreign power. It states, among other things, how
shelters should be furnished and how civilians should be evacuated from war
zones. Residents are also called to civil disobedience if they are forced to
earn an occupying power. The Ministry makes no secret that the brochure is
inspired by Russia's support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Euro becomes new currency
Lithuania joins the EU Monetary Union on New Year's Day and switches to using
the euro. Now all the Baltic states are included in the euro zone, which
comprises a total of 19 of the EU's 28 member states. In addition, the euro is
used in Montenegro and Kosovo.