Sejm, Senate dep speakers commemorate those exiled by Soviets

On Monday, in Lithuania, ceremonies are held to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the mass deportations to Siberia organized by the Soviet occupation regime. The ceremony is attended by, among others, the Deputy Speakers of the Sejm and Senate of Poland, Ryszard Terlecki and Marek Pęk.

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June 14 is celebrated in Lithuania as the Day of Mourning and Hope. On June 14-18, 1941, the first wave of mass deportations of the Lithuanian population to Siberia took place. It is estimated that nearly 20,000 people were deported at that time. The repressions lasted until 1952. In total, 132,000 people were deported.

“Mass deportations, which deeply shocked the entire country, affected all social strata, all national communities - Lithuanians, Poles, Jews, Russians, Belarusians,” Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) stressed.

She recalled that those deported in inhumane conditions deep into the USSR were “exterminated in prisons and labour camps. Only one third of the deportees managed to return to Lithuania after hard attempts. The rest either died or their fate is unknown,” she said.

“It is a common tragedy. We should commemorate it together,” Deputy Speaker of the Sejm Ryszard Terlecki told journalists.

On Monday, Ryszard Terlecki and Marek Pęk took part in the central ceremonies at Lukiškės Square and in the exiles in Naujoji Vilnia organiszed at the monument. It was from the railway station in Naujoji Vilnia that the first carriages set off for Siberia on June 14, 1941. They also laid flowers at Rasos cemetery in the mausoleum of the heart of Marshal Józef Piłsudski and in the chapel where the January insurgents rest.

The Polish officials also met with Lithuanian MPs in Vilnius on Monday to talk about the October celebrations related to the 230th anniversary of the Mutual Assertion of Two Nations and activities aimed at improving Polish-Lithuanian parliamentary cooperation.

Mr Terlecki announced that in Vilnius he also met the leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The main topic of their conversation was his critical post about her presence at a political event organised by Warsaw’s Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. Mr Terlecki stressed that the meeting with the oppositionist ended in a good atmosphere, and the parties promised each other cooperation in various fields. He added that he also touched upon the subject of scholarships for students and researchers from Belarus.