by Ralph A. Brandt
This month’s column will be about Lithuania. Lithuania is a country on the Baltic Sea. It is bordered on the south by Poland. It is bordered on the south-east by Byelorussia. It is bordered on the north by Latvia. (The capital of Latvia is Riga. The big event in Riga is its annual Blonde Parade. If you google this you can get some nice photos.)
When I was in school I knew next to nothing about Lithuania. I do recall reading “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. “The Jungle” was a muckraking novel about the slaughterhouses in Chicago. The employees of these slaughterhouses were Lithuanian immigrants. Jack London once referred to “The Jungle” as “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.”
The capital of Lithuania is Vilnius. Vilnius is located near the Byelorussian border. According to legend, Grand Duke Gediminas (1275-1341) was hunting in a sacred forest. He was near the confluence of the Vilnia River and the Neris River. Tired after a day of hunting, he went to sleep. He had a dream of a huge iron wolf standing at the top of a hill and howling as loud as a hundred wolves. When he awoke he asked a pagan priest to interpret the dream for him.
The priest replied: “What is destined for the ruler and the State of Lithuania is this: The iron wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. The city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers, and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world.”
Gediminas complied with the will of the gods. He built a city and named it Vilnius.
At one time Vilnius had a pretty good-sized Jewish community. (This came as a surprise to me, since Vilnius does not have any beachfront property.) When Napoleon’s army passed through Lithuania in 1812, Napoleon referred to Vilnius as “the Jerusalem of the north.” Nowadays, however, Vilnius is suffering from a different distinction. It is developing a reputation as the pedophile capital of Europe.
One player in this drama is Drasius Kedys, who was born in 1972. Another player is Laima Stankunaite, who was born in 1986. Drasius and Laima began living together. She gave birth to an out-of-wedlock daughter in February of 2004. The girl’s name was Deimante Kedyte. The couple split up in 2006, and they got involved in an ugly custody battle.
Lithuania has a unicameral parliament. This parliament is called the Seimas. In this time frame Victor Munitanas was the Speaker of the Seimas. Andrius Usas was a politician and advisor to Victor Munitanas.
Andrius Usas became romantically involved with Laima Stankunaite. In November of 2006, Laima, with the help of Andrius, got custody of Deimante. Drasius got visitation rights every other weekend.
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