American and Israeli leaders must know what ideology is being presented to them by those self-identifying as allies. Clearly, sufficient due diligence has not been performed prior to accepting meetings.
Lithuanian ambassador to the United States of America Audra Plepytė frequently shares pictures on Twitter of Lithuanian politicians meeting with members of the US Congress. Among these Lithuanian politicians on Twitter, Lithuanian Member of Parliament, Laurynas Kasčiūnas figures frequently.
He is the Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee. His persona is not well known outside of Lithuania, which is why it was so easy to set up our political leaders in America. The high-ranking politician is known for his various antisemitic, racist and homophobic outbursts. His background is only discoverable for those familiar with the Lithuanian language.
As a young politician, still a student, Laurynas Kasčiūnas began his political career as an activist in a Neo-Nazi organization: the Lithuanian National Democratic Party. Kasčiūnas’s rise in the Neo-Nazi youth organization was rapid and he joined the party as a member in 2003. Originally he served as the head of the Neo-Nazi party’s youth organization but quickly became deputy leader to party “führer” Mindaugas Murza. Nowadays, Kasčiūnas asserts he joined the Neo-Nazi party “out of youthful enthusiasm”.
The Neo-Nazi party was doing well at the time. They won several seats on the Šiauliai city council in elections in 2003. They didn’t have large cadres of party members and the collaborationist student, Laurynas Kasčiūnas decided he could move up quickly in the party. A little bit later, in 2006, party chairman Murza and several fellow travelers were caught and convicted of an antisemitic attack after they toppled a menorah display set up by the Šiauliai Jewish Community.
This was Mindaugas Murza’s second conviction: he was found guilty earlier of illegal possession of ammunition, for which he was thrown out of the Lithuanian armed forces. Kasčiūnas began casting around for other people of like mind. Irena Degutienė, a member of parliament from the Conservative Party and for a time, Speaker of Parliament, hired Kasčiūnas as an advisor. This post began in 2009 and came to a crashing end in 2012 when Kasčiūnas was involved in a corruption scandal. The young conservative who allegedly had taken money from the MB Baltic conglomerate apparently was directed by his business paymasters to look into the prospects for a law on the use of interest payments being pushed by the business community. Kasčiūnas managed to avoid prosecution, but his membership in the Conservative Party was suspended for some time.
For more on Kasčiūnas’s connection with the corruption scandal in Lithuanian, see:
After enduring his party’s chastisement, Kasčiūnas returned to active participation in the party, and in 2016 was elected to the Lithuanian Parliament. His influence grew extraordinarily after his party won elections in 2020 and became the largest partner in the ruling government coalition. Kasčiūnas was made Chairman of the Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee. Trying to make himself appear more respectable, Chairman Kasčiūnas began portraying his membership in the Neo-Nazi party as youthful folly, even though the entirety of his political activity is filled with Neo-Nazi ideas, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and attempts to persecute all who disagree with his ideology.
Let’s look at the connections between Kasčiūnas’s general activities and the Neo-Nazis who gave birth to his political career:
Euroscepticism. Reviewing the Lithuanian media back in 2003, there’s this article whose title translates as “Neo-Nazis among the Ranks of Eurosceptics”– https://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/lietuvos-euroskeptiku-gretose-neonaciai.d?id=1946276
–which talks about an initiative group demanding advertising time on television. The group includes Mindaugas Murza and “the student L. Kasčiūnas.”
Homophobia. Laurynas Kasčiūnas graduated from direct action in Neo-Nazi activities to making homophobic proclamations. Defending the rights of Lithuanian Neo-Nazis to hold their infamous annual March 11 marches, “political scientist Kasčiūnas used homophobic arguments in 2013,” according to a Lithuanian article whose title translates as “Political Scientist Laurynas Kasčiūnas: Double Standards Are Applied in Lithuania Because Homosexuals Are Allowed to March but Nationalistic Youth Are Not” found here:
Kasčiūnas’s name also pops up here in a homophobic petition aimed at stopping the Baltic Pride gay pride march in Vilnius. https://www.propatria.lt/2016/06/kreipimasis-del-komunistines.html
Antisemitism. Kasčiūnas has participated in many and varied events and meetings glorifying Holocaust perpetrators and has actively attempted to persecute those who disagree with his ideology. Kasčiūnas’s position and that of the Lithuanian MP Audronius Ažubalis known for his laudatory views made in 2019 regarding the Lithuanian Jew-murderer Jonas Noreika, can even be found in Lithuanian on the website of the Lithuanian parliament here: https://www.lrs.lt/sip/portal.show?p_r=35717&p_k=1&p_t=267568
Racism. As the conservatives consolidate their hold on power, racism and segregation have become the national policies of the country. A clear example of this is how migrants seeking asylum are treated. Kasčiūnas has played a primary role in this. The basic tenet for these policies is the proclamation migrants arriving in Lithuania from across the border with Belarus are “tools of hybrid warfare.” Those who requested asylum were arrested and held for years, deprived of their dignity under prison conditions which the Lithuanian parliament’s human rights ombudsman has called tantamount to torture (there is an official report to that effect by this ombudsman). Some of the refugees were sexually abused by Lithuanian officials (a criminal case has been started regarding these crimes).
Then Lithuania began to apply their “turn-back” policy with Lithuanian border guards simply pushing people physically back into Belarus at the border. There have been cases where Lithuanian border officials simply ignore decisions by international courts regarding a specific migrant, where the life of the refugees is threatened due to their state of health, and the horrific picture of Lithuanian officials pushing migrant families with children into an unknown fate with temperatures below freezing. This “turn-back” policy continues despite its clearly racist pretext. “Political migrants” from Belarus (white) and war refugees from Ukraine (white) are allowed to enter Lithuania without any barriers. Kasčiūnas made it his business to visit a number of ad hoc refugee prisons for Africans and Arabs in Vilnius and southeast Lithuania in the fall of 2021, threatening the people there that they would be sent to prison if they didn’t accept Lithuanian repatriation payments of a few hundred euros and board flights to countries of origin, or any country in Africa or Asia Minor. Lithuanian television evening news programs carried footage of Kasčiūnas in verbal arguments in English with African asylum seekers. In January 2022 a coalition of human rights organizations asked the Lithuanian parliament’s Ethics and Procedures Commission to assess Kasčiūnas’s comments regarding refugees and asylum seekers. The coalition of human rights organizations alleged Kasčiūnas had encouraged discrimination and dehumanized the migrants publicly, see: https://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/zmogaus-teisiu-organizacijos-praso-ivertinti-kasciuno-pasisakyma.d?id=89109911
Further calls to eliminate opponents. After Russia invaded Ukraine, Kasčiūnas began kindling new fascist notions. The newest proposal is to deprive those who are disloyal to the regime, the current Conservative Party government of Lithuania, of Lithuanian citizenship. Annulment of citizenship would be incurred for crimes described in chapter XVI of the Lithuanian criminal code, including crimes against Lithuania’s independence, territorial integrity and constitutional order. These include staging coups d’état, espionage, attempts on the life of the Lithuanian president, treason, aiding another country acting against Lithuania, violation of international sanctions regimes, revealing state secrets, and so on. Imposing an ideological test on citizenship is a characteristic of the Communist ideology Kasčiūnas claims to oppose.
It is noteworthy this discussion began when the star Lithuanian ice-skating couple Povilas Vanagas and Margarita Drobiazko participated at an ice-skating event in Sochi, Russia. As punishment for this dubious transgression the Lithuanian president Nauseda issued a decree depriving the world-famous pair of ice dancers of a medal bestowed upon them. Lithuania has decorated an entire cadre of Holocaust perpetrators, beginning with the Lithuanian Nazi military commander Jonas Noreika. President Nauseda is not revoking any of those rewards. Indeed a statement of national values.
For more on the proposals made by MP Laurynas Kasčiūnas and former commander of the Lithuanian military, now head of the Klaipėda chapter of the Lithuanian Conservative Party Arvydas Pocius on denial of citizenship for disloyalty to the Conservative Party’s ideology, see: https://www.15min.lt/naujiena/aktualu/lietuva/du-nsgk-nariai-siulo-sudaryti-galimybe-atimti-pilietybe-del-nusikaltimu-pries-lietuva-56-1926936
The Neo-Nazi initiatives emanating from MP Laurynas Kasčiūnas are consistent and enduring, this is not in any way some sort of enthusiastic youthful folly. This raises the question of whether American politicians whose meetings with Kasčiūnas are heavily promoted by the Lithuanian embassy, actually know they are meeting with a bonafide, credentialed and experienced Neo-Nazi.
More importantly, do the constituencies of these members of Congress know their partner in Lithuania is a corrupt Nazi-supporting, Eurosceptic, homophobic, racist and antisemitic figure constantly spouting new fascist proposals?
The purpose of this essay is not to present a full synopsis, dossier or resume of Laurynas Kasčiūnas’ ideas and notions of fascism. I simply present examples of the first search results of race, gender, sexual orientation and anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant hate which came up.
As Chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee, Kasčiūnas is meeting with, and advising, American national leadership such as Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Don Bacon, Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Ruben Gallego, Senator Joni Ernst, and many more.
US political leadership is being briefed on a war by bad actors. US and Lithuania are both members of NATO. As such, members of our US military in NATO units may be placed under the advisement of Lithuania’s Defense Minister or their Chairman of their Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee. Consider the response of a parent of an African American soldier knowing their child was under the direction of an open racist. Imagine a Neo-Nazi advising on a unit containing Jewish soldiers. Would a rabid homophobe objectively advise on the best care of a LGBT soldier? The Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III states on the Department of Defense‘s website that one of his three principles is to „Take Care of Our People“. That statement is incompatible with Lithuanian leadership values.
When Senator Tom Cotton meets with Kasciunas, does he know how antisemitic he is?
Senator Durbin has championed LGBT rights. Does he know that Kasčiūnas is diametrically opposed to his values?
Does Senator Ernst know that Kasciunas is in opposition to her values of human rights?
Congressman Bacon has been a proponent of human rights, does he know Kasciunas does not share his values?
What does all this say about Ambassador Plepyte? She knows what Kasčiūnas is. Yet, she blithely presents him to American leadership under the false pretense of shared values. Ambassador Plepyte has shown no hesitation in insulting our American policy makers. She has completely ignored Congressman Brad Sherman’s correspondence about Lithuania’s national Holocaust fraud agenda. Is Plepyte a trustworthy foreign partner? It seems not.
The Lithuanian defense system has major problems. Laurynas Kasčiūnas as Chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee, is an open Neo-Nazi. But, so is Lithuania’s Defense Minister Anusauskas. Lithuania deserves to be protected from her national enemies, but the leadership put forth by Lithuania herself are not trustworthy partners for America, Israel or anyone else.
Lithuania is free to select the characteristics of those they appoint to their national leadership. But America cannot defend those values and cannot place our soldiers in danger to protect that ideology. It undermines the very moral fabric of America and the West. While the USA is defending Lithuania, it calls into question our own moral position in opposing Russian lies, when Lithuania’s lies are equal in malevolence (just not equal in their ability to wage war).
Only three days ago, President Biden spoke about civil liberties when congratulating Nobel Peace Prize winners He said: “For years, they have tirelessly fought for human rights and fundamental freedoms—including the right to speak freely and criticize openly.” This is the opposite of what American troops are defending in Lithuania. How can America support such noble ideals when dealing with supposed partners such as Kasčiūnas or Anusauskas?
Clearly, nothing from Lithuania may be accepted at face value. Our political leadership was compromised into appearing with Neo-Nazis and fascists. This cannot be repeated.