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Algirdas Brazauskas
Algirdas Mykkolas Brazauskas, Litauens statsminster, under det Nordiskt-Baltiska statsministermotet i Reykjavik 2005-10-24.jpg
Brazauskas in 2005
12th Prime Minister of Lithuania
In office
29 June 2001 – 1 June 2006
Preceded by Eugenijus Gentvilas
Succeeded by Zigmantas Balčytis
4th President of Lithuania
In office
25 November 1992 – 24 December 1998
Acting to 25 February 1993
Preceded by Vytautas Landsbergis (as Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania)
Succeeded by Valdas Adamkus
Speaker of the Seimas
In office
25 November 1992 – 25 February 1993
Preceded by Vytautas Landsbergis (as Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania)
Succeeded by Česlovas Juršėnas
Deputy Prime Minister of Lithuania
In office
17 March 1990 – 10 January 1991
Chairman of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Lithuanian SSR
In office
15 January 1990 – 11 March 1990
Preceded by Vytautas Astrauskas
Succeeded by Vytautas Landsbergis (as Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania)
First Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania
In office
20 October 1988 – 19 December 1989
Preceded by Ringaudas Bronislovas Songaila
Succeeded by Mykolas Burokevičius
Personal details
Born (1932-09-22)22 September 1932
Rokiškis, Lithuania
Died 26 June 2010(2010-06-26) (aged 77)
Vilnius, Lithuania
Political party Communist Party of Lithuania (1957–1990)
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1959–1989)
Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (1990–1993, 1998–2001)
Independent (1993–1998, DLP membership suspended while president)
Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (2001–2010)
Spouses Julija Brazauskienė
Kristina Brazauskienė
Children 2 daughters (from first marriage)
Alma mater Kaunas University of Technology (1956)
Signature
Military service
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Branch/service Naval Ensign of the Soviet Union (1950–1991).svg Soviet Navy
Years of service 1956–1960
Rank Rank insignia of главный старшина of the Soviet Navy.svg Starshina 1st stage

Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas ([ˈɐ̂ˑlʲɡʲɪrdɐs ˈmʲîːkoːɫɐs brɐˈzɐ̂ˑʊskɐs], 22 September 1932 – 26 June 2010) was the first President (fourth overall) of a newly re-independent post-Soviet Lithuania from 1993 to 1998 and Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

He also served as head of the Communist Party of Lithuania that broke with Moscow.

Biography

Brazauskas was born in Rokiškis, Lithuania. He finished Kaišiadorys High School in 1952 and graduated from Kaunas Polytechnic Institute in 1956 with a degree in civil engineering. He later served as a Conscript sailor in the Soviet Navy, serving as a Fire controlman on board the Riga-class frigate Rosomacha until 1960. In 1967, Brazauskas started working in the Governmental Planning Committee, as a Committee's head's assistant. In 1974, Brazauskas received PhD in economics.

Family

He divorced his first wife, Julia, with whom he had two daughters; he married Kristina Butrimienė in 2002.

Political career

He took various positions in the government of Lithuanian SSR and Communist Party of Lithuania since 1965:

  • 1965–1967, the minister of construction materials industry of Lithuanian SSR
  • 1967–1977, deputy chairman of State Planning Committee of Lithuanian SSR.
  • 1977–1987, secretary of Central Committee of Communist Party of Lithuania.
Vytautas Landsbergis and Algirdas Brazauskas (March 1990)
Vytautas Landsbergis and Algirdas Brazauskas in March 1990

In the 1980s, he transformed himself from a Communist Party apparatchik to a moderate reformer. He was seen as cautious by nature, and when confronted by the tide of nationalist feeling in the Soviet Union, Brazauskas initially believed that the USSR might be reconstituted as a looser federation of independent, but communist, states. In seeing the tide of an independent democracy, he joined the reformist cause observing in 1990 that "We are realists now, and we cannot be propagating any utopian ideas. It's no secret [that] the Communist Party has a dirty history."

In 1988, he became the first secretary of the Communist Party of Lithuania. Under his leadership, the majority of the Communist Party of Lithuania supported the Lithuanian independence movement, broke away from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and transformed itself into social-democratic Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (now merged into the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party). Brazauskas was Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (head of state) from 15 January until 11 March 1990.

Though he sought to avoid a breach with Moscow in 1989, as leader of Lithuania's Communist Party, he formally severed the party's links with Moscow. This was rare in that no other local communist party organizations in the former Soviet Union dared to take this step. Some historians and journalists have later suggested that this act was the earliest certain indication of the inevitability of the demise of the Soviet Union.

After the 1992 parliamentary elections, he became speaker of the parliament and acting President of Lithuania on 25 November 1992. He then won the presidential election with 60 percent of the vote and was confirmed as president on 25 February 1993. He immediately suspended his membership in the Democratic Labour Party; the Constitution does not allow the president to be a formal member of a political party during his tenure. He decided not to seek reelection, and handed the presidency to his successor, Valdas Adamkus, on 25 February 1998.

Retirement

Brazauskas said he planned to retire from politics and wanted to be "an ordinary pensioner." During the initial two years in retirement he wrote on a book, though it was incomplete. He said he would continue writing it after his second stint in government. He also said he would finish "household work" and that he likes physical work. He added that "I have no estates, but the property I own needs to be put in good order." He wanted to live "in a way that other people live."

Return to politics

He subsequently returned to politics saying he "always had something to do in life." This time he was Prime Minister from 3 July 2001, appointed by the parliament, until 1 June 2006, when his government resigned as President Valdas Adamkus expressed no confidence in two of the Ministers, formerly Labour Party colleagues of Brazauskas, over ethical principles.

His government resigned on 31 May 2006 after the large Labour Party left the governing coalition. Brazauskas decided not to remain in office as acting Prime Minister, and announced that he was finally retiring from politics. He said "I tried to be a pensioner for several years, and I think I was successful. I hope for success this time, as well."

He led the ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania for one more year, until 19 May 2007, when he passed the reins to Gediminas Kirkilas. He served as the honorary chairman of the party, and remained an influential voice in party politics.

Honours

Algirdas Brazauskas was honored with the various decorations, among others the Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain, Grand Cross Order of Vytautas the Great. Days before his death Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded Brazauskas with the Order of Honour for his significant contribution to cooperation between Russia and Lithuania and good neighborly relations. Brazauskas was also an honorary member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

Illness and death

Algirdas Brazauskas 2012 Lithuania stamp
Commemorative Lithuanian Post stamp (2012)

Brazauskas was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in December 2008. He died on 26 June 2010 from cancer, aged 78. At the time of his death, he was still considered an influential figure in Lithuanian politics.

Following his death the obituaries wrote of him that he had a "frame to match his indefatigable stature and a calm but commanding presence that could fill any stage." His successor as president, Valdas Adamkus, said that he "dared to decide which side to choose in a critical moment."

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said "The memory of the first directly elected president of Lithuania after it restored its independence, of a strong and charismatic personality, will remain for a long time in the hearts of the Lithuanian people."

See also

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