Disinformation, as if the Ancestors of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania were Fascists

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Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania
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On May 24, during the prime time program of the pro-Kremlin TV broadcaster Sezoni TV, the guest, political scientist Hamlet Chipashvili spoke about the visit of the foreign ministers of the Baltic countries and Iceland to Georgia. According to Chipashvili, diplomats were forced to come to Georgia, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis is a representative of an old fascist family, and Chipashvili knew his grandfather, the head of “Sąjūdis” personally. The guest of the program also noted that the Baltic countries are experiencing a population shortage, due to the massive migration to Europe, their population has decreased from seven million to three million in total – a challenge that threatens Georgia as well.

Screenshot 2024 06 04 at 12.37.57 PM Disinformation, as if the Ancestors of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania were Fascists

The claim that Landsbergis is a representative of an old fascist family is misleading. The ancestors of Gabrielius Landsbergis fought for the independence of Lithuania, his great-grandfather Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis was associated with members of the anti-Nazi resistance movement, his great-grandmother Ona Landsbergienė hid a Jewish girl, and his son Gabrielius Landsbergis-Žemkalnis published an anti-Nazi magazine, who was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944.

The claim about an alleged mass migration of the population of the Baltic countries is manipulative. A large part of the population indeed left the countries before joining the European Union in the ’90s, and currently, the balance of migration is still negative, although the dynamics have been increasing since the 2000s and are approaching a positive rate.

The foreign ministers of the Baltic states and Iceland visited Georgia on May 15. The diplomats met several officials, including the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia Shalva Papuashvili, and President Salome Zurabishvili. Later, Margus Tsahkna, Thórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, and Gabrielus Landsbergis joined the protest against the law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” on Rustaveli Avenue and addressed the participants of the protest.

The claim that the Foreign Minister of Lithuania is a representative of a famous fascist family is not based on any tangible evidence. The grandfather of Gabrielus Landsbergis, Vytautas Landsbergis, became the chairman of the Supreme Council and the first leader of independent Lithuania in 1990. On March 11 of the same year, he presided over the session of the parliament at which the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Lithuania was announced. Landsbergis became a member of the Lithuanian Parliament, its chairman, and later, a member of the European Parliament.

Any connection of Vytautas Landsbergis with fascism or fascists is not proven by evidence. In 2005, as a member of the European Parliament, Landsbergis came out with an initiative to ban Soviet and Nazi symbols in the European Union. His father, Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, was a famous architect and public figure. In 1918-21, he participated in the wars for the independence of Lithuania. In 1939-44 he was the chief engineer and architect of Vilnius. At the same time, in 1941, he became a member of the Lithuanian Transitional Government, which existed during the last days of Soviet rule and the first weeks of Nazi Germany, and fought for Lithuania’s independence. There are a number of reports about his connection with members of the anti-Nazi resistance movement.

Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis’ wife Ona Landsbergienė (initially without agreement with the family) sheltered the Jewish girl, however, a month later the girl had to leave the family because Landsbergienė’s son Gabrielus Žemkalnis-Landsbergis was arrested for his connection with the resistance movement and the family became the object of increased surveillance. Another Jewish girl was helped by the family of Ona Landsbergienė’s sister, for which Landsbergienė made a fake birth certificate. Family members of Landsberghiene and her sister have received the title “Righteous Among the Nations”, which is given to those who participate in helping the victims of the Holocaust (1,2).

Gabrielus Žemkalnis-Landsbergis, who we have already mentioned, published the anti-Nazi magazine “Youth, Be Vigilant!” with friends. In 1944 he was arrested by the Gestapo. His father, Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, has been trying to free his son from imprisonment for years.

Therefore, the fascist origin of the Landsbergis family is not confirmed by open sources, and their activities over the years indicate the opposite.

Notably, similar claims about the alleged Nazi past of the ancestors of European politicians are disseminated somewhat frequently. For more details, see Myth Detector articles:

Hamlet Chipashvili also claims that the decline of the population of the Baltic countries is connected with migration to Europe. After 1990, the population of all three Baltic countries has in fact decreased.

Screenshot 2024 06 04 at 12.40.32 PM Disinformation, as if the Ancestors of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania were Fascists
Source: statista.com

Several factors caused the decrease in population. After gaining independence, many local people, including the ethnic Russian population, left the country.

In addition, after gaining independence, the birth rate also decreased, which was related to the feeling of uncertainty about the future. After the initial shock, fertility rates in Latvia and Estonia have increased significantly since the 2000s, but Lithuania’s rate has fallen sharply in recent years. All three countries have increased life expectancy and decreased infant mortality rates. Despite the positive dynamics, these indicators are not enough for the growth of the total number of the population.

As for migration figures, in the early 1990s, the balance of migration in all three countries was sharply negative. After 2005, the migration rate is mostly positive. In 2014-2021, the balance in Estonia became positive. According to the latest data, this indicator is still negative in all three countries, although it is rapidly approaching a positive indicator.

Screenshot 2024 06 04 at 12.42.06 PM Disinformation, as if the Ancestors of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania were Fascists
Source: data.worldbank.org

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