The governments and publics in the Baltic states commemorated yesterday the mass deportations carried out by Soviet authorities on June 14, 1941. On that date, tens of thousands of families in the Baltic states were rounded up and shipped to Siberia and the Russian North, where many of them perished. That action inaugurated a long-term process of ethnic engineering, which continued after World War II, one facet of which was the resettlement of people from the interior of Russia to the occupied Baltic states. The two-pronged policy aimed to russify the three small republics; its legacy continues to distort their demographics.
June 14 is officially observed as a day of mourning in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Lithuanian parliament held yesterday a solemn joint session during which it was recalled that up to 400,000 Lithuanians were subjected to various forms of repression–ranging from death to deportation or imprisonment and expropriation–under Soviet rule. President Valdas Adamkus pledged to seek historic justice “so that everything which was done to the Lithuanian nation and state is investigated and given correct names, with victims called victims, killers called killers, traitors called traitors.” Adamkus, a teenager in 1944, joined a volunteer unit which fought the advancing Soviet forces.
In Latvia, commemorative ceremonies were held at railroad stations from which trains had carried the deportees to Russia. The Latvian State Archives released a collection of documents on the deportations from the Baltic states and Moldova. An international conference of historians dealing with Nazi and communist crimes, opened yesterday in Riga to an address by President Guntis Ulmanis, whose entire family–including Latvia’s last pre-occupation president, Karlis Ulmanis–was deported to Siberia. The current president called for more thorough research into those events and a wider dissemination of the findings. The Baltic states plan a series of conferences this coming August to commemorate sixty years since the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which ushered in the Soviet occupation (BNS, June 14).
No comparable commemorations were held yesterday in Moldova, even though its population also was subjected to mass deportations on June 14, 1941 and thereafter. Moreover, the Soviet occupation period is not yet entirely over in Moldova, as Russian troops control the Transdniester region and prop up the avowedly procommunist regime there. In an on-the-record presentation last week in Washington, Moldovan Parliament Chairman Dumitru Diacov–himself born in Siberia to a family of Moldovan deportees–carefully avoided dealing with that Soviet relict in Central Europe (see the Monitor, June 10).
LAZARENKO’S POLITICAL SWAN SONG.