The Referendum and Legal Certitude: Vote on Preserving Citizenship Won’t Solve Deep Flaws in Existing Institution of Citizenship

The Referendum and Legal Certitude: Vote on Preserving Citizenship Won’t Solve Deep Flaws in Existing Institution of Citizenship

In a referendum this May, Lithuanian citizens will vote on amendments to article 12 of the Lithuanian constitution, the highest law in the land, to allow for the preservation of Lithuanian citizenship:

“Citizenship in the Republic of Lithuania is acquired through birth and other paths laid down in constitutional law. A natural-born citizen of the Lithuanian Republic who acquires citizenship of a country meeting the European and trans-Atlantic criteria chosen and defined by the Republic of Lithuania does not lose citizenship in the Republic of Lithuania. In other cases a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania cannot at the same time be a citizen of a different country, except through exceptions laid down in constitutional law. Constitutional law determines the procedure for the acquisition and loss of citizenship.”

Considering the language of the constitutional amendment and taking into account as well the accessible material accompanying the referendum, it’s important to note several important matters:

1. The position proposed that a Lithuanian citizen who is a citizen by ethnic origin has the opportunity to preserve Lithuanian citizenship while acquiring citizenship in another country.
1.1 The explanatory note accompanying the resolution by the Lithuanian parliament for the referendum to amend article 12 of the Lithuanian constitution (hereinafter explanatory note) talks of the expansion of the institution of dual citizenship, offering an opportunity to preserve Lithuanian citizenship while acquiring the citizenship of a different country.
1.2 Examining this position, it seems to be the case that a Lithuanian citizen is a citizen not by virtue of ethnic origins, i.e., who has acquired Lithuanian citizenship through other means (naturalization, restoration of citizenship, etc.) would not have the right to preserve Lithuanian citizenship in acquiring citizenship in another country.

2. A citizen of Lithuania who is a citizen by virtue of origins would have the opportunity to preserve Lithuanian citizenship while acquiring the citizenship of another country meeting the criteria of trans-Atlantic and European integration.
2.1 The explanatory note says a working group formed by the Lithuanian parliament to solve dual-citizenship issues had decided to recommend to parliament to recognize as states meeting the criteria of trans-Atlantic and European integration the member-states of NATO and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Nonetheless, so far there is not binding legal act defining which states meet the criteria, and it is unknown what sort of legislation might be adopted detailing these criteria and the procedure for acquiring citizenship. Even after these criteria are defined in binding law, it is possible the Republic of South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, a number of progressive states in Asia and others might not meet the criteria.

It is also questionable whether this constitutional restriction based on insuring national security interests and other interests of the Lithuanian state is a proportional and well-founded measure in terms of obligations adopted in international treaties ratified by Lithuania. In light of the information available, this restriction could have aspects of indirect discrimination and could restrict the parties involved beyond the extent needed to insure the achievement of legal regulation.

3. If this amendment of a blanket nature to article 12 of the Lithuanian constitution is adopted (the amendment would come into force January 1, 2020), it’s not clear how and from when it would begin to operate in practice, without the constitutional legislation mentioned therein being adopted as well, i.e., the real content of this position and its practical working would only became clear after the corresponding constitutional laws were adopted later.

4. It is very probable the amendment would at this time only provide a theoretical avenue for new émigrés to preserve Lithuanian citizenship, while it most likely would not affect the legal status of those who were deprived of Lithuanian citizenship at an earlier time, e.g., those who migrated to Israel in 1991, acquired Israeli citizenship and so lost Lithuanian citizenship. The amendment most likely would have no effect either on the legal statues of those who left Lithuania during World War II, e.g., Jews who were evacuated from Lithuania and who were deprived of Lithuanian citizenship during the period of foreign occupation (see part 3 of article 2 of the Lithuanian Law on Citizenship). The current language of the Law on Citizenship fails to provide for a large portion of Litvaks who suffered during the war and their descendants to restore their Lithuanian citizenship held before the war and in these cases the adoption of the referendum measure would have no effect: this issue isn’t the subject of this referendum.

Taking into consideration the abstract and blanket language of the proposed amendment to the Lithuanian constitution and honoring the rule of law, legal certitude and the general principles of legislation, the publicity program for the referendum can be seen as only partially disclosing the contents of the referendum measure being presented, which raises doubts on whether the result of the referendum would really reflect the will of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania.

Information:
Monika Antanaitytė, +37067240942

Condolences

Condolences

Nobel prize-winning Litvak and American neurologist Paul Greengard passed away April 13. Although he was born in New York City, he was descended from Jews from Virbalis, Lithuania. He won the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 2000. He was born December 11, 1925 and died at the age of 93.

His mother died in child-birth and his father Benjamin remarried an Episcopalian. While studying at MIT Paul helped develop warning systems for attacks by Japanese kamikaze pilots. After World War II he attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he was graduated in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics. He decided to forgo graduate school in physics because post-war physics research was predominantly about nuclear weapons, and became interested in biophysics. Greengard began work on the molecular and cellular function of neurons. In 1953 he received his PhD and began postdoctoral work at the University of London, Cambridge University and the University of Amsterdam. In 2000 Greengard, Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel were awarded the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine for their discoveries made in chemical and electric signal transduction in the nervous system. Paul Greengard used his Nobel Prize honorarium to help fund the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, an award for women scientists named after his mother and established in 2004 to shine a spotlight on exceptional women in science. He is survived by two sons. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and many colleagues.

Maceva Documenting and Cataloging Old Jewish Cemetery in Seirijai, Lithuania

Maceva Documenting and Cataloging Old Jewish Cemetery in Seirijai, Lithuania

The Litvak cemetery catalog organization Maceva (www.litvak-cemetery.info) began documenting the old Jewish cemetery in Seirijai, Lithuania, last year and the work is almost complete.

During an international summer camp held August 6 to 19 in 2018, all surviving headstones were cleaned, cataloged and digitized. A total of 692 were found. Maceva has issued a map of the cemetery following the intense clean-up and cataloging there. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has partially funded some of the cemetery renovation and digitization project.

Rudashevski Diary Now Accessible for the Visually Impaired

Rudashevski Diary Now Accessible for the Visually Impaired

The Vilnius ghetto diary of Yitzhak Rudashevski is now available as an audiobook in Lithuanian, read by Justinas Gapšys. According to the card catalog of the Lithuanian Library for the Blind in Vilnius, the insert in the CD includes a text in braille. The very limited-edition CD is available at 5 branches of the Lithuanian Library for the Blind around the country. The book itself is bilingual with excerpts from the diary in Yiddish starting from the back cover and moving inward. The audiobook does not contain a reading of the Yiddish section.

More information available in Lithuanian here.

David Irving Not Welcome in Lithuania

David Irving Not Welcome in Lithuania

Friends abroad have contacted the LJC regarding a visit planned by Holocaust revisionist David Irving to Lithuania, Poland and Latvia from September 1 to 9.

Irving is a notorious and convicted Holocaust denier, and the LJC would like to thank Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius for his firm statement against Irving’s visit. Linkevičius said he had asked the Lithuanian Migration Department to add the British resident to the list of personae non gratae for whom entry to Lithuania is barred.

Poland’s foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz said Poland would also bar Irving. ““Negation of the Holocaust is not allowed by Polish law, therefore he will not be welcome here in Poland if he wants to come and present his opinions,” the minister said Friday according to the Times of Israel and Reuters.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Condolences

Our deepest condolences on the death of long-time Lithuanian Jewish Community member Edit Ptašek to her son Danielius and loved ones.

Condolences

With sadness we report the death of Herzl Gurvich at 72. Our deepest condolences to his son Vulf Gurvich. The funeral is being held in Hadera in Israel.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Visits South African Litvak Community

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairwoman Visits South African Litvak Community

Photo: Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky visits the South African Jewish Museum in Cape Town

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky is currently visiting the largest Litvak community in exile, the South African Jewish community, from April 8 to 13.

Although the Community and chairwoman Kukliansky have long maintained close ties with Litvaks in the Republic of South Africa, this is the first official visit by the LJC.

In meetings with South African Litvaks scheduled for the morning of April 10 at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, Kukliansky planned to discuss issues surrounding historical justice, restoration of Lithuanian citizenship and possible joint projects to celebrate 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Jewish History in Lithuania.

On Historical Begging

On Historical Begging

by Segejus Kanovičius

Beggars ask for all sorts of things–money, drugs, clothes. The average passer-by looks at the beggar trying to determine if he really is in need, and often passers-by pretend they haven’t seen him.

There is a category of beggar in Lithuania which everyone seems to see, and everyone seems to agree they are truly unfortunate, but these beggars only receive donations a few times during the year. From the microphone. And they get wreaths. These are the murdered Jews of Lithuania.

They have been asking for donations for a long time but they don’t ask for much, just historical justice. And it’s not they who should be ashamed, but those who are reluctant to offer historical justice. And stingily keep it from Jews and the public. When the living [Holocaust survivors] remind them the historical truth must be restored, they, those who keep the historical truth away from our eyes, immediately turn wild, and call the beggars, the living and the dead together, agents of the Kremlin. Even though no one serves the Kremlin better than in this way, by attempting to portray a lie as the truth, through avoidance and by presenting public arguments which don’t stand up to any criticism.

On Tragic Characters and Armchair Murderers

On Tragic Characters and Armchair Murderers

by Sergei Kanovich, poet and essayist

I began to write about General Vėtra and collect signatures regarding him with 16 other people who were not reactionary and did not seek to annoy Lithuania about four years ago. As I attempted then to warn high-ranking Lithuanian officials (as did the late Leonidas Donskis), the little songs sung by the Genocide Center and their rewriting of history hands all the aces over to the Dugins of the Kremlin.

Therefore the preamble to the article about reactionary figures who are annoying Lithuania is not acceptable to me, because the causal relationship is being confused, since nothing compromises Lithuania more than the anonymous finding issued by the Genocide Center which basically denies the Holocaust.

About the title: let’s imagine a title in which some Soviet NKVD or MGB agent who has compiled a list of people to be deported is portrayed in this way: “Comrade X Was Not an Executioner, but Siberia Wasn’t a Health Resort.” It doesn’t really work.

Vilnius University Recovering Memory Diplomas Presented

Vilnius University Recovering Memory Diplomas Presented


Vilnius University is continuing its Recovering Memory program to remember and honor members of the university community, both students and staff, who were driven out of the university because of actions by totalitarian regimes and local collaborators and who were prevented from receiving an education, from carrying out academic work and from teaching.

On April 2 memory diplomas were issued to 85 former VU students and staff who were forced out of the university by the Nazis or Soviets.

This included 47 Jews who were removed from the university because of their ethnicity in 1941.

More in Lithuanian here.

Family of Icchokas Meras Sends Thank-You Note

Family of Icchokas Meras Sends Thank-You Note

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Jakovas Bunka welfare and support fund, the Lithuanian Jerusalem Vilnius Jewish Community and the Kelmė regional administration held a ceremony March 13 to unveil a monument to the Lithuanian writer and Litvak Icchokas Meras at Icchokas Meras Square in the town of Kelmė attended by local students and teachers, members of the local government, fans of Meras’s work and guests from Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai and Panevėžys.

The LJC received a thank-you letter from Icchokas Meras’s family in Paris in April.

Statement Regarding Destruction of Noreika Plaque

Statement Regarding Destruction of Noreika Plaque

The Lithuanian Jewish Community, based on the principle that justice does not flow from injustice, favors constructive methods for the solution of problems and outstanding issues, and therefore does not condone the wanton and perhaps even criminal destruction of the plaque commemorating Jonas Noreika in Vilnius.

This act, perhaps criminal, does not solve the underlying problems concerning the recognition of historical truth and insuring the respect due Holocaust victims. The LJC completely rejects any connection to this event and will refrain from further comment upon it.

Victims of Children’s Aktion Remembered in Kaunas

Victims of Children’s Aktion Remembered in Kaunas

This year marked the 75th anniversary of the horrific Children’s Aktion [mass murder operation] in the Kaunas ghetto. This year as in past years the event was commemorated at Robertas Antinis’s statue Torah of the Children, with an expanded commemoration to mark the milestone date at the J. Gruodis Concert Hall.

Lithuanian actor Aleksandras Rubinovas read excerpts from eye-witnesses and historians about what happened on March 27, 1944: “The aktion commanded by oberfuehrer Fuchs and oberscharfuehrer Kittel, was conducted in order to transform the ghetto into a concentration camp where only those fit for work would be held; the children and elderly were supposed to be liquidated.”

A passage from the book “Išgelbėti bulvių maišuose” [Rescued in Potato Sacks], a collection of memoirs by survivors rescued as children from the Kaunas ghetto: “We saw a bus. There was loud music coming from it which was supposed to drown out the children’s screams, the begging of the mothers and the barking of the dogs. Drunken berserk Ukrainians wielding axes and crowbars hunted the children and elderly out of their hiding places. The atrocities ended at about sunset.

Makabi Swimmers Prepare for European Maccabi Games in Budapest

Makabi Swimmers Prepare for European Maccabi Games in Budapest

The Lithuanian Makabi Athletics Club held a swimming competition with participants from Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevėžys and Šiauliai at the best swimming pool in Kaunas–at the Girstutis Sports and Recreation Complex in Kaunas–March 31. Different age groups competed in 25-meter freestyle and 50-meter breaststroke competitions. Select members of the Makabi team also swam 100 meters freestyle.

Vilnius swimming teacher Valentina Timofejeva and her students Erika Filipavičiūtė, Lingailė Bugvilionytė and Anastasija Mamčenko won two matches in the women’s group. Kristupas Kvitko won twice in the men’s, followed by Timofej Devkš, Aleksej Fadeev, Adrian Milevskij, Kristijonas Šreiberis, Aaron Galpern, Leonidas Levinas, Albertas Savinčius and Gennady Kofman and others with single wins. Raja Verblinskaja also won one match.

In the women’s 100-meter freestyle in the 50-meter-long pool Erika Filipavičiūtė placed first, followed by Kamilė Ilijonskytė and Anastasija Mamčenko.

Among the winners in the men’s competitions, Andrej Fadeev came in first, followed by Robert Nikitin and Aleksej Fadeev. All were from Vilnius. The Vilnius team was commanded by Vilnius Makabi chairman Artiom Perepelica and trainer Valentina Timofejeva. Aušra Štreimikytė refereed the event.