Progressive sections in Lithuania and across Europe are intensifying a campaign to ensure justice for Algirdas Paleckis, founder of the socialist party, FRONTAS, and a former diplomat. Paleckis was secretly arrested in October 2018 by Lithuanian authorities, who alleged that he intended to “arrange kidnappings of several Lithuanian prosecutors”, and that he was involved in “espionage on behalf of Russia”.
According to reports, since his detention, Paleckis has not been allowed to meet anyone, except his wife and that too, only once. Observers and his supporters have said he is the victim of a witch hunt by right-wing forces in the country. It is widely believed that he is being targeted for his writings exposing the role of right-wing mercenaries in the death of hundreds of Lithuanians during the anti-Soviet protests of 1991.
The Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania has started an online signature campaign urging the Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda to ensure basic legal rights for Paleckis, and denouncing the state-sponsored witch-hunt of his supporters. The Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania was formed by the merger of FRONTAS and the Lithuanian Socialist Party. Over 10 activists who have been campaigning for Paleckis’ freedom have been subjected to persecution by Lithuanian law enforcement agencies and intelligence bodies.
The party also said, “The state is trying to discredit not only left-wing ideas in Lithuania, but also any display of social protests. Those protesting against militarization of the country due to NATO programs and advocating peace are [pursued] in Lithuania by the far-right and are called ‘Kremlin agents’ by the authorities. In this situation, solidarity with progressive European forces is vitally important for protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms in Lithuania.”
The left movement in the country, progressive parties and concerned activists have demanded an end to this persecution. While calling for the release of Algirdas Paleckis, they have also demanded that the media and activists be allowed to attend any trials against him. They have also called on authorities to immediately permit his family, colleagues and associates to visit him.
Lithuania has seen a surge in the influence of neo-fascist ultra-right wing groups and a witch hunt against leftists and progressives. The right-wing government is citing ‘Russian aggression’ to justify its attacks on socialist and people’s movements in the country. According to a report by the Struggle: La Lucha, after the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2014, the Lithuanian security services intensified their persecution of members of the Socialist Front and other progressives.