Algirdas-Mikolas Brazauskas


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(b. Rokiškis, Lithuania, 22 Sept. 1932; d Vilnius, 26 June 2010)

Lithuanian; leader of Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party 1990–3, President of independent Lithuania 1993–8; Chairman, Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, 2001–7, Prime Minister 2001–6 A construction engineer and manager, Brazauskas rose rapidly in the Lithuanian Communist Party as an industry and economics specialist, becoming Minister of the Construction Materials Industry (1965–6), Deputy Chair of Lithuanian Gosplan (1966–77), and CP Secretary for Industry (1977–88). In October 1988 he became First Secretary of the Lithuanian CP, facing the rising tide of nationalism. To establish his nationalist credentials in December 1989 he took the Lithuanian party out of the CPSU, the first move of this kind, and became Chair of the Lithuanian Parliament. However, in March 1990 he was replaced in this post by Landsbergis, whose nationalist party Sajudis won the parliamentary elections. Brazauskas became leader of the re-formed Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party. With the increasing unpopularity and extremism of the Sajudis government new elections were held in October 1992 which were won by the LDLP and in February 1993 Brazauskas convincingly won the presidential elections. His government has pursued a more moderate pace in economic reform, especially in agriculture, and cultivated better relations with Russia and Poland, while maintaining Lithuania's commitment to joining Western institutions. His term of office ended in 1998 and he withdrew from politics until 2001, when he became Prime Minister following the collapse of a centre-right coalition. In a referendum in 2003, Lithuanians voted to join the EU and in 2004 the country joined both the EU and NATO under his guidance. He resigned in 2006, when a coalition partner, the Labour Party, withdrew after the President had expressed no confidence in two of its ministers. He remained leader of the LSDP for a further year, after which he became honorary chairman. Popular with the people, Brazauskas played a major role in taking Lithuania from a Soviet state to a member of the EU and NATO.

Subjects: Politics.

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