Vytautas Landsbergis


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(b. Kaunas, 18 Oct. 1932)

Lithuanian; President 1990–2, President of the Seimas (parliament) 1992–3, 1996–2000 Landsbergis was born in the then-independent Lithuanian state into a middle-class, intellectual family. He studied music at the Vilnius Conservatorium, where he followed an academic career, rising to become professor. In 1988 he was a founder of Sajudis, the Lithuanian popular front organization, which pressed for independence from the Soviet Union, who had permanently occupied Lithuania since 1944. In 1989 Landsbergis was elected to the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies. On 15 January 1990 Landsbergis was elected President of the Soviet Republic of Lithuania, defeating the Communist candidate, Algirdas Brazauskas. The next month, the nationalists won two-thirds of the seats in the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On 11 March 1990 the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet voted to secede from the USSR.

Landsbergis was unable to maintain the unity of Sajudis, which split over the course of 1990. By the end of 1991, its popularity had considerably decreased as the result of economic crisis. In the parliamentary elections of February 1992 the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party, as the reformed Communists were known, won a majority of seats. Its leader, Brazauskas, replaced Landsbergis as President. In 1993 he formed a new conservative political party, the Homeland Union, which secured a landslide victory at the 1996 elections, and he became President of the Seimas. In 2004 he was elected to the European parliament.

Subjects: Politics.

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