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By: Linas Johansonas / LTnews
CLEVELAND – On Dec. 8, Delfi.lt reported that during her book presentation in Minneapolis at the Museum of Russian Art on Monday, controversial author Ruta Vanagaite told the audience that during her speech in Cleveland on Dec. 3, local Lithuanians were disruptive and that police needed to intervene.
According to Audrius Sinickas, who was in the audience in Minneapolis, Vanagaite’s opening remarks were: “I was giving a presentation yesterday in Cleveland and Lithuanians were disturbing and shouting and needed police to calm them down. I hope if there are Lithuanians here they will be nice”.
That did not happen in Cleveland. What she said was a complete lie.
I was one of five Lithuanians who attended Vanagaite’s event in Cleveland and I was the only one of them who asked her questions during the question and answer portion of the event. I also spoke to Vanagaite two times after the event, once in the hall and a second time in the parking lot. My questions to her were polite in tone and never aggressive or antagonistic, and she was pleasant in answering all of them.
After the speech, a representative from the Case Western Reserve University Lifelong Learning Center, where Vanagaite spoke in Cleveland, thanked me for my questions.
No other Lithuanian in attendance spoke or approached her, and no one shouted or disrupted the event. At no point did police have to calm anyone down.
The Lithuanians in the audience included myself, Dr. Viktoras Stankus (historian at Cleveland Lithuanian Archive Center), Andris Dunduras (archivist at Cleveland Lithuanian Archive Center), Algis Matulionis (publisher of Dirva Lithuanian newspaper), and Alex Zinni (LTnews technical director).
When asked on Facebook whether anyone disturbed the presentation or shouted during Vanagaite’s speech in Cleveland & did police need to calm anyone down, Alex Zinni responded:
“Absolutely not! There was no shouting whatsoever and no disruptions. It couldn’t have been any more calmer in that room.”
The Vanagaite event in Cleveland was so calm that I even asked one of the two police officers there: “Do they normally have police at these book events?”. The officer responded: “Only when there’s a controversial author”.
Vanagaite also said in the Delfi.lt article that I was organizing a protest against her appearance in Cleveland. That is also not true.
Our only “plan” was to attend her book presentation, listen to what she had to say, and to report on what she said.
As reported by LTnews on Dec. 4, Vanagaite made several questionable comments during her Cleveland speech like “Lithuanians only suffered by deportation (during WW2)” and ” It’s not about accuracy, I’m only interested in the truth”.
It’s quite obvious from Vanagaites comments in Cleveland, Minneapolis and to Delfi, not only is she not accurate, she is not interested in the truth.
LTnews editor Linas Johansonas
Ruta Vanagaite is currently on a speaking tour of the USA and Canada, talking about her book Musiskiai (Our People: Journey with an Enemy), which she co-authored with Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In her book, Vanagaite wrote how she discovered that her own relatives were complicit in the murder of Lithuanian Jews during World War 2, along with her attempt to uncover other war-time atrocities in Lithuania.
Recently, Vanagaite caused a scandal by making controversial comments about Lithuania’s anti-Soviet resistance commander Adolfas Ramanauskas aka “Vanagas”. The writer, who is also a public relations specialist, had come under heavy criticism in Lithuania after saying that, based on KGB documents, Ramanauskas aka “Vanagas” was not tortured, but tried to commit suicide, a statement rejected by historians as incorrect. Because of the controversy, Vanagaite’s publisher cut ties with her and pulled all of her books off of store shelves.