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View from Vilnius. New book by Ina Navazelskis: first-hand accounts of Lithuania’s re-independence

Ina Navazelskis
US embassy / Ina Navazelskis
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On February 21, the US Embassy in Lithuania hosted a reception for the general public to meet the Lithuanian-American author Ina Navazelskis for the occasion of her recently (2012) published book „Fragmentai ir lūžiai: reportažai iš Vilniaus 1990—1991 metais“ (“Fragments and Fissures: Reports from Vilnius 1990—1991”).

Current members of the Lithuanian parliament ("Seimas") were present at the event: Deputy-chairman Česlovas Juršėnas, Zigmas Vaišvila, and Bronislavas Genzelis.

The publisher’s description of the book may be translated this way: “It is about Lithuania at its unique moment in world history, the restoration of independence.

The author was in Lithuania during the most stressful months of the re-independence period, from the proclamation of independence on 11 March 1990 until August 1991 — when the world community recognized the Lithuanian state.

While reading the stories, we find ourselves in the places of decisions at the edge of fate: the Soviets surrounding the parliament building, in the office of Vytautas Landsbergis, in the Lithuanian representative office in Moscow, as well as in the hospital where were the victims of the Soviet actions of the 13th of January, and with Lithuanian pilgrims in Poland arriving for a papal blessing … and visit other strategic points.”

Tomas Venclova describes Navazelskis’ new work:“I think that this is the most interesting, authentic and impartial book about a unique moment in Lithuania’s and the world’s history – the re-establishment of independence…

"Being in the very center of events, she witnessed them from a distance at the same time, unfettered by Lithuanian myths and complexes.”

The author is a journalist of 30 years experience with a specialization in East European affairs and modern history. She began reporting from Lithuania in the late 1980’s, being one of the first western journalists to be based in the Baltics, from 1990 until late 1993, during the time when she was a regular correspondent for Newsweek magazine.

Ina Navazelskis is the author of two biographies — Leonid Brezhnev’s and Alexander Dubcek’s. Since 2001, the author has worked for the United States Holocaust Museum’s Department of Oral History as administrator of the department’s domestic as well as international projects that have been conducted and are on-going in several European countries, including the Baltic States. Navazelskis holds a M.Sc. in international journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism (1987), an M.A. in Area Studies from the London School of Economics (1980), and a B.Sc. in journalism and political science from Boston University (1977).

In January 1990, Gorbachev travelled to Lithuania, but he failed to convince Lithuanians to remain Soviet citizens.

Two weeks after Gorbachev left, Ina Navazelskis arrived to Vilnius on a fellowship from the US-based Institute of Current World Affairs. She witnessed Lithuania’s newly elected parliament — with a non-Communist majority for the first time in half a century — declared independence from the USSR on 11 March 1990.

She was still in Lithuania a year and one-half later, when the world recognized Lithuanian independence. Navazelskis’s new book is about the events that took place in Lithuania during this period of time, including the way the life continued for ordinary people, and Lithuania’s actions that signalled the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.

„Fragmentai ir lūžiai: reportažai iš Vilniaus 1990—1991 metais“ is published by: Versus Aureus; 384 pages; 16 illustrations; format: 14 x 21 cm; price:  <30 litas. In Lithuanian language. ISBN:  978-9955-829-06-5

A copy of the book is available at the US Information Center (i.e., library), which is open to anyone, regardless of citizenship, weekdays from 10 am to 2 pm, and Tuesdays from 10 am to 7 pm.

The Baltic Review

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