Preferred Citation: Senn, Alfred Erich. Lithuania Awakening. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1990 1990.

11— The Sajudis Congress

The Sajudis Congress

The "Second" Great Vilnius Seimas took place on October 22, 23, and 24, 1988. The first, which had taken place in December 1905 in the midst of revolution in Russia, had marked the maturing of Lithuanian self-identity after years of oppression and struggle.[1] The second, born of perestroika, represented no less of a revolution in Lithuanian national self-consciousness. "All of Lithuania" wanted to fit into the Sporto Rumai where the congress of the Movement for Perestroika in Lithuania took place, wrote the Vakarines Naujienos of October 24, and the result, in Vytautas Landsbergis's words, was "two days that changed Lithuania."

Sajudis had summoned the congress in order to establish its mandate as the voice of Lithuania; the meeting also presented a great opportunity to win world-wide publicity. Cekuolis headed the press committee, planning to publish a daily bulletin in Lithuanian, Russian, German, and English. Cekuolis also arranged a daily press conference organized around a topic. On


Friday, the day before the congress was to open, Sajudis leaders answered general questions; on Saturday the press conference would focus on the national questions in Lithuania; and the Sunday conference scheduled Lithuanian history as its theme. Cekuolis was in charge of all press conferences, and he participated actively in answering questions. From the first he made clear that he would give preference to questions from foreigners; he wanted the world to become acquainted with Lithuania.

For the people of Lithuania the congress constituted a celebration of their national identity but also a grim reminder of their past. Across the republic those who were unable to be in Vilnius sat glued to their television sets. "I could not eat or drink for two days," a friend from Kaunas told me. Another spoke of her father's refusing to leave the television set in the living room even to go to the kitchen for food lest he miss something. A third declared that his father had taken to his bed, mumbling that nothing good could come of all this. Yet another told me of a neighbor's pounding on the door at 11 A.M. — a former deportee to Siberia, he desperately felt the need of a drink and someone to sit with. No one could remain unaffected by the proceedings.

On Saturday morning, when delegates and spectators gathered in front of the Sports Palace for the congress's ceremonial opening, the atmosphere was festive. Besides carrying the national tricolor, people bore banners with the coats of arms of various regions — Druskininkai, Alytus, Birzai, Varena, Zarasai, Kelme, and others. One sign announced, "Rainiai — Your Blood Is Our Flag"; another declaimed, "Vytautas, Gediminas, Kestutis: We Are with You, You with Us"; and yet another: "Welcome, Guests from the USA!" Later in the


morning, after the session had begun inside, sympathizers of the Freedom League took over the plaza with their own signs: "We support the secession of Russia from the USSR," and "Withdraw the Occupation Army." The authorities gave no sign of reacting to these provocative statements.

Party and government officials made every effort to declare their support of the event. Standing in front of the Sports Palace before the opening, Lionginas Sepetys assured me that "we" had looked forward to this event: it was an important moment for Lithuania. Sajudis and government had to work together to resolve delicate social and national questions. He concluded with the hope that the congress would be properly understood elsewhere, especially in other republics.

The meaning of this last statement eluded me until I understood that he must be referring to a critical editorial on the front page of Moscow's Pravda on Friday, October 21. On its front page the newspaper had published a letter from a Russian teacher in Siauliai, objecting to "speculation" with Lithuanian history and "falsification of the past." The paper's editorial spoke of the blood spent in wars and, although granting that the "popular fronts" in the three Baltic republics were correct in principle, it insisted that the Soviet Union had to remain indivisible: "The national nihilism of the recent past must not become nationalism."

As became clear in a press conference later in the day, none of the Sajudis leaders had read that issue of Pravda; only the party leaders seemed to be keeping up to date with Moscow's opinion. Once the congress had ended, Lithuanian journalists sought out the teacher, S. Bezrukova, who explained that she refused to learn Lithuanian and that she was horrified by stories that


her pupils, who were Russians, were asking their fathers whether they were "occupiers." On November 1, she declared on Lithuanian television, "I don't feel at home here." At the start of the congress, however, most Lithuanians seemed cheerfully oblivious to warnings from Moscow.

Inside the Sports Palace the giant scoreboards on either end carried the message "For Your Freedom and Ours," a call originally used in the rising against Russian rule in 1831 in an effort to rally Russians, Poles, and Lithuanians alike against tsarist oppression. An enormous yellow-green-red banner began in the center of the ceiling, ran to the wall behind the stage on the long side of the building opposite the grandstands, and then continued down the wall to the floor. Tricolor flags abounded; I saw no Soviet flags in the hall. The congress registered 1,021 delegates, 96 percent of them Lithuanians. There were 8 Russians, 6 Jews, and 9 Poles. Most delegates were men (854). In terms of "social origin," 299 came from the peasantry, 202 from workers, and 459 were administrators. The 283 "scientists and artists" represented the largest occupational group.

Members of the Initiative Group with whom I spoke were without exception jubilant about the course of events. Juzeliunas expressed satisfaction with the government's announced plan to repudiate the deportation orders of 1941 and 1948; Arunas Zebriunas expressed his personal gratitude to the Lithuanian emigres who had preserved Lithuanian culture during the dark days at home.

Applause greeted the appearance of Justinas Marcinkevicius and Meile Luksiene on the stage as the official chairpersons of the opening session. "At last the day has come," Marcinkevicius began. "The day has come when


we have finally joined our civil and political will, our intellectual and creative means, all the forces of our body and spirit, joined them for the rebirth of Lithuania." Sajudis, he declared, "has formed and worked as a democratic movement of all the nation, of all the people, growing out of our history, out of the distant and not so distant past, out of the best traditions of our national life. We have finally understood: woe to those peoples whose history and memory are silent or tell falsehoods."

As the congress's first order of business, a delegation immediately left to place a bouquet of flowers at the grave of Jonas Basanavicius, the "Patriarch of the Lithuanian National Renaissance." The emotional pitch then rose with the appearance of Vytautas Landsbergis-Zemkalnis, Vytautas Landsbergis's father, who declared that the building was now not a sports hall but "Lithuania's shrine." He enthusiastically joined with the crowd in chanting "Lie-tu-va, Lie-tu-va," and the assembly joined in singing Ilgiausiu metu ("Many Years," a song serving as both "Happy Birthday" and "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow") in his honor.

After several speakers had offered greetings, Algirdas Brazauskas came out of the guests' section to address the delegates. He had been taking his own notes, rising when the delegates did but not always joining in the applause. This constituted his first major public appearance, his "speech from the throne," as Cekuolis had put it in English at Friday's press conference. The delegates greeted him with strong applause and cries of "Valio!"

Offering greetings on behalf of party and government, Brazauskas reported that Mikhail Gorbachev "asked me to pass on his most sincere greetings and good wishes to all the creative and industrious people of Lithuania,


whom he highly values and respects. Comrade Gorbachev declared that he sees in Sajudis that positive force that can well serve the good of perestroika and even better strengthen the authority of the Soviet system." Sajudis, Brazauskas went on, had done much; "our creative intelligentsia" had accomplished remarkable things. Few had believed that Sajudis could become such a force, and the party had not properly appreciated it. Now, he promised, things would be different: the two forces, the party and Sajudis, had to respect each other and to cooperate. Similarly, the other nationalities of Lithuania need not fear the "revival of Lithuanian national consciousness."

Developing his theme of reconciliation, Brazauskas paid homage to the victims of Stalinism, and he called for the elimination of "all the blank spots" from Lithuania's history. A "commission of competent specialists" should examine the "tragedy of the Rainiai woods" as well as other Stalinist misdeeds in Lithuania. Lithuanians, he declared, must join together to honor those "who have suffered unjustifiably; let us wipe away their tears and those of their children." He himself joined in the applause of the delegates at this point.

The secretary then asserted the party's position on a series of other issues, reminding the delegates that the Communist Party had originated the program of perestroika, praising Sajudis's efforts to regain the national symbols, supporting the principle of "economic self-dependence," and advocating strong action to improve the environment, including stopping construction of Ignalina's third unit. He concluded by quoting Marcinkevicius: "The Fatherland is difficult work."

For all the sympathy that the delegates showed to Brazauskas, they constituted a tough audience. Listeners responded restlessly to sentences that sounded like


Songaila's leftovers. When he noted that perestroika had begun with the party, delegates laughed, and they seemed amused at his plaint that it seemed difficult at times to find an avenue of communication with the public: "To be sure, we did much before, but perhaps we publicized it too little." Nevertheless the overall reaction of the public to the speech was positive. Applause accompanied the secretary back to his seat, and the delegates again sang Ilgiausiu metu.

The congress's work through the morning consisted of position papers by Sajudis speakers and communications of good will from other parts of the Soviet Union and from emigres. The Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky read a poem written in Marcinkevicius's honor. During the lunch break, the congress's second press conference featured what Time magazine's correspondent characterized as "a joint Polish-Russian offensive," challenging the right of Lithuanians to speak for the population of the republic. Cekuolis and his associates easily deflected the verbal blows.

The afternoon session saw speeches becoming more emotional. A representative of Lithuanians still living in Vorkuta, the site of an infamous prison camp, called for a "Lithuanian Lithuania" and asked for help to bring Lithuanians home: "Lithuanians must return to Lithuania." Terleckas warned of the dangers of compromise and declared, "We do not want autonomy, we want independence." Juzeliunas denounced the writings of Sarmaitis and Ziugzda, saying that the vulgarization of history had hurt the Lithuanian people. By late afternoon, the congress had fallen well behind the tight schedule that had been set for it, and the organizers were already telling some delegates who wanted to speak that there was no room for them.

The delegates added to the delays in the program


by repeatedly interupting speakers with applause, and their enthusiasm did not seriously distinguish between them. They had sung for Brazauskas, they cheered Terleckas for thirty seconds when he called for the removal of "foreign armies" from Lithuania, and they cheered Vytautas Bieliauskas, a Lithuanian emigre from Chicago who was head of the World Lithuanian Community, for fifty-one seconds at the end of his speech. Bishop Vytautas Aliulis, speaking for the episcopate, drew twenty-seven seconds of applause for his statement that the bishops would not enter the cathedral/art museum for a mass until the church controlled it, twenty-seven seconds for his announcement that Vincentas Cardinal Sladkevicius would preside at a mass outside the cathedral the next morning, and twenty-two seconds when he finished. Since speakers in any case frequently exceeded their allotted first ten and then eight minutes, the applause contributed to dragging out the proceedings.

Some commentators later complained that Stalin had taught the people to cheer that way, but at least part of the problem lay in the mixed character of the gathering — was it a victory celebration or a business meeting? The cheering expressed the congress's celebration of the Lithuanian national idea, even as it interfered with the task of giving Sajudis a permanent organization. The presiding officers repeatedly asked the delegates to refrain from standing ovations in the middle of speeches, but to no avail. The celebratory mood repeatedly prevailed over the working mood in the delegates' behavior.

At about twenty minutes before eight in the evening, the presiding officer, Antanas Buracas, interrupted the proceedings with a sensational piece of news: the gov-


ernment and party had announced that as of that day, October 22, the cathedral in Gediminas Square had been restored to the Catholic Church. The delegates rose cheering, and their applause ran for more than ninety seconds before Buracas finally stopped it. There was, however, little more that could be done that day. Organizers had planned a procession from the Sports Palace to Gediminas Square at 8 P.M., that ceremony now became the apotheosis of Lithuanian national feeling.

The decision to return the cathedral to the church constituted the most popular action that the leadership could conceivably have taken at this moment. The decision-making coterie of party and government — Brazauskas, Sakalauskas, Astrauskas, and Sepetys — had apparently made their decision after hearing Aliulis speak, and they had obviously not had time to communicate with Moscow. They had sent Justas Paleckis up to the rostrum to deliver their message to Buracas; now they could just enjoy the evening.

When the quadrumvirate left the building to lead the procession, the plaza in front of the Sports Palace was packed with people awaiting them, and everyone already knew of the decision to return the cathedral. The group passed through a double line of women wearing peasant costumes and holding candles. Mayor Vileikis told me the next day that the women had pressed food on them, insisting that they must be hungry after such a hard day's work.

The citizenry fell in behind the leaders, and the procession, carrying banners, torches, and lighted candles, slowly made its way across the Nerys River to Lenin Prospect. As they walked along, passing stopped and deserted buses that had nowhere to go, groups sang folk


songs and songs of deportations. Particularly catching my ear was the line, "They put them all into a car, and took them no one knows how far." As we entered Lenin Prospect, or "Gediminas Street" as it was called this evening, a rocket arched over the city and finally extinguished itself just before landing on the roof of the Institute of Party History. At least 20,000 crammed into Gediminas Square; thousands filled the streets around the square; many more could not hope to enter the area and hurried home to watch the festivities on television.

Brazauskas spoke again in Gediminas Square, reminding the crowd of how in June, when Sajudis was first forming, everyone was still speaking hesitantly. Now, he told us, the speakers at the conference had felt free to speak openly. The talks had been of varying quality, he observed, but one theme seemed to predominate: all agreed that "We residents of Lithuania" had to unite. Declaring, "We" had decided, "quickly and firmly," to return the cathedral to the people, he called the walk to the square moving and impressive, and he hoped that this spirit of unity could continue. In response the people chanted "A-ciu, a-ciu, a-ciu " (Thank you) and waved their flags.

The celebration extended far into the night. Food services remained open long after their normal hours; euphoria prevailed. Returning to my hotel at 1 A.M., I saw that people had lined the center of Lenin Prospect from Gediminas Square to Soviet Bridge with their candles, which were still burning. Even the weather had been kind to the Lithuanians. On Sunday night, at the end of the conference, it was cold and misty, but on Saturday night and Sunday morning, it was clear.

At 7 A.M. on Sunday morning, Gediminas Square was again full, and the tricolor flag was again prominent.


Cardinal Sladkevicius presided at a celebratory mass in front of the cathedral, and those unable to attend the service could watch the mass on television. Even the woman who introduced the program on television was dressed in national costume. All across the land believers gathered in front of their sets to experience this unprecedented occasion.

The cardinal began his sermon by saying that at noon on Saturday, preparing his text, he had planned to talk of "wrongs," but that now he wanted to "thank our national brothers who have shown such great understanding" in returning the cathedral. The cathedral had now expanded to all of Lithuania, and the people had reason to rejoice. But as they rejoiced, they also "must learn to wait, to be patient." Later in the day even Brazauskas was to quote the cardinal's message of "Rejoice, wait, and grow."

Early arrivals at the Sports Palace could hear the voices of the faithful echoing across from the cathedral. The attitude of the delegates was one of nervous excitement. They had shared the emotional bath of national rebirth; now, they realized, they had considerable power, for better or for worse, to shape the course of Lithuania's future. Inside the hall, the delegates greeted Brazauskas with applause, while spectators nodded and agreed that things would have been very different were Songaila still in office.

At midmorning the delegates finally adopted their organizational rules. There had been conflicting views of what Sajudis should be: one wing had favored making it a dues-paying organization that could amass a treasury to finance its own political candidates; the other wing had favored keeping it a looser organization in which anyone could claim membership. A little be-


fore 11 A.M. the congress adopted its rules based on the looser model, and the chairman, Kazimieras Motieka, announced that according to Soviet law Sajudis was now a legal entity. The delegates could proceed to elect the Seimas, a council of 220 members.

Soon thereafter a fundamental difference of views between Vilnius and Kaunas flared up; once again Kaunas balked at following Vilnius's lead. Although the Initiative Group had published its program less than two weeks earlier, the Sajudis organization in Kaunas had drawn up its own program back in September. Differences between the two documents lay mainly in tone and emphasis, rather than in substance, but Kaunas's insistence on offering its own version irritated some members of the Initiative Group.[2]

At the congress, the Kaunas delegates distributed a flyer outlining their recommendations for the section on "General Principles" in the Initiative Group's program. Particularly striking was the second point: "Sajudis asserts that the incorporation of the Lithuanian Republic into the USSR in 1940 was a result of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939, violating treaties between Lithuania and Soviet Russia and Lithuania and the Soviet Union. The act of incorporation annulled the independence of the state of Lithuania."

Kaunas delegates agreed among themselves that they would emphasize the theme of "occupation" in their speeches to the congress, and on Sunday morning Rolandas Paulauskas, one of their number, called on the delegates to make a clear decision on Lithuania's future, suggesting that some members of Sajudis were "flirting" with the government for their own purposes, perhaps seeking administrative positions for themselves. Moscow, he warned, "gives to the Baltic repub-


lics that which won't be difficult to take back. . . . The only simple question," he declared, "is whether to belong to the Soviet Union or not." Sajudis, he insisted, must remain an opposition force lest it be coopted by the very authorities it was now opposing.[3]

In essence Paulauskas's speech was no stronger than Terleckas's the previous day, but because of his fame as a popular composer and his role as a member of the Kaunas delegation, his words aroused excitement. Vytautas Petkevicius and Vaclovas Daunoras, the chairmen of this session, both took the podium to denounce this "provocation." Petkevicius angrily denounced the tactics of the Kaunas group, and Daunoras called on the delegates to remember the words of the cardinal. The fact that the delegates successively gave Paulauskas, Petkevicius, and Daunoras standing ovations spoke eloquently to the mixture of emotions and reason that fueled the passions of the congress.

Paulauskas had actually given his speech twice before in preliminary gatherings in Kaunas. Because of time limitations, however, he had to squeeze his presentation, which he had planned for ten minutes, into just three. He also had not used the concept flirtavimas, flirting, in his trial runs in Kaunas, but the Kaunas delegates stood with him, criticizing Petkevicius and Daunoras for their heated responses. If Paulauskas had had his full ten minutes, one Kaunasite assured me, the impact of his speech would have been far more favorable. As it was, he had wrenched the delegates' emotional strings — in the words of my friend from Kaunas he had simply said what most already had "on the tips of their tongues" — and the organizers of the congress had to spend considerable time and effort to bring the delegates back into line.[4]


During the congress's luncheon break, Cekuolis presided over the daily press conference, this time devoted to questions of Lithuanian history. As an accredited representative of the Chicago Lithuanian newspaper Akiraciai, I took advantage of Cekuolis's concern for letting foreign correspondents speak and posed the first question: "In the past, Soviet Lithuanian historians tried to establish their own interpretation of Lithuanian history, and they officially spoke of foreign `bourgeois' historians as their enemies. What is the attitude toward foreign historians now? Will there now be a new Lithuanian interpretation of Lithuanian history?"

Alfonsas Eidintas declared that in the past Soviet historians had used even worse epithets to refer to westerners, but he declared that the "years of confrontation have passed." The Lithuanian historians hoped that now they could obtain access to sources held in the West and that they could enter into a dialog with their Western counterparts on as broad a basis as possible. He noted the foundation of a new organization, the Lithuanian Historical Society, in which foreigners could become members, and declared his own hope that in the future Lithuanian readers would recognize their history as written by Lithuanians.

Liudas Truska then listed the topics that historians were currently reevaluating: the role of the Catholic Church in Lithuanian history, the Lithuanian national rebirth, the formation of the Lithuanian state after World War I, evaluation of the accomplishments of the Lithuanian republic between the wars, the fateful years of 1939-1940, the "so-called revolutionary situation and socialist revolution" of 1940, the "so-called class struggle" after World War II, and the collectivization of the Lithuanian peasantry in 1948 and 1949.


Asked how the new history would differ in discussing the events of 1940, Gediminas Rudis framed his response as an example of "the new pluralism," declaring that he would say that Lithuania had been "occupied" and that the decision of the "People's Seimas" in 1940 to request incorporation into the Soviet Union constituted "political theater." Truska then pointed out that a Russian historian from Moscow, Yuri Afanasiev, had been the first to call the events of 1940 in the Baltic an "occupation."[5] Delegates from Kaunas had spoken of "occupation," but this was the first occasion that a Lithuanian historian had dared to use the word in public.

In answer to a question from The London Guardian's correspondent, Truska declared that Lithuanians had experienced deportations in each year of Stalin's rule. He could not produce exact figures, but he put the minimal estimate of deportees at 150,000 and the maximum at 350,000. The maximum figure, he noted, would constitute some 12 percent of the population of Lithuania. When Ceslovas Jursenas asked why no attention was being paid to the victims of Nazi occupation, Truska explained that research on that topic had been conducted for over forty years, whereas historians had not been able to write a single line on the victims of Stalinism.

Other topics in the press conference ranged from the secret protocols to Sajudis's attitude toward the Freedom League. Romas Sakadolskis asked two questions concerning the historians' attitude toward the resistance to Soviet rule after World War II. The Kaunas influence seemed to lie behind a question as to what place the historians would give Romas Kalanta, the young man who had immolated himself in 1972; Eidin-


tas responded that historians were not yet ready to consider this question. When a correspondent from Moscow News asked the panel to discuss the benefits that Lithuania had received from being a part of the Soviet Union, Cekuolis pointed out that although one could of course list many benefits, it was also true that in 1939 Estonia had enjoyed a higher standard of living than Finland — if the correspondent could assert that Estonia now still enjoyed a higher standard of living, "I congratulate you on this discovery."

Although Czerwony sztandar published a transcript of the press conference, little of it aroused press comment; historians, however, reacted sharply. Rudis's statements were considered especially controversial. One veteran historian stopped me on the street the next day to say that Rudis had been wise to state that he was offering only his own opinion; he also took the occasion to deride my question about the use of terms like bourgeois historian: "You've always been concerned about that," he chuckled. "Don't worry, we'll use those terms again."

When the congress resumed its debates on Sunday afternoon, the excitement of Paulauskas's speech lingered on. Antanas Antanaitis criticized Petkevicius for having used the term provocation, but Petkevicius stood by his position. Vitas Tomkus urged Party Secretary Brazauskas to be "worthy of the name Algirdas" in deciding between the interests of Vilnius and Moscow. (The Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas warred with Moscow in the fourteenth century.) Sigitas Geda offered an idealistic view of how American Lithuanians could come to the aid of their fellow countrymen if only offered a real opportunity. Petras Cidzikas requested support for his hunger strike and urged Brazauskas to


speed up consideration of the political prisoners' cases. (When Cidzikas left the stage, he received nearly a minute of applause.)

Late in the afternoon, with tensions running high, Brazauskas came to the podium for the second time to set the tone for the final phase of the meeting. "Many opinions have been expressed," he began. "We will try to consider all of them together with Sajudis's leaders . . . . I am extremely grateful for . . . these two days and for our walk to Gediminas Square . . . . Some talks from this beautiful white lectern were very depressing. . . . And I turn to the rationally, sensibly, realistically thinking people, and I ask them to think over these talks very carefully. Can one really decide such questions so freely with words? Won't we be returning to our original point of departure, or perhaps even further back?" In conclusion, he too quoted the cardinal: "I truly want to say, dear friends, Let us learn to wait. I support and I ask you to support the words uttered today in Vincentas Cardinal Sladkevicius's sermon: Let us learn to wait and let us not climb on each other's heels." In their established style, the delegates gave Brazauskas a standing ovation.

In the evening, under the direction of Romualdas Ozolas and Vytautas Landsbergis, the delegates considered the thirty-three resolutions that had been submitted to them before the congress opened. Here too differences of opinion arose and, although Ozolas willingly accepted some stylistic suggestions, he constantly urged the delegates to abstain from substantial amendments and to accept the spirit and "principles" of the resolutions that the Sajudis leadership wished to adopt.

Most of the resolutions, ranging from problems of relations with the emigration to ecological questions,


passed with at worst only a few abstentions; some, such as one establishing national holidays, were referred to the Seimas; a few, such as one on the question of a Polish consulate and cultural center in Vilnius, registered a few negative votes. Resolutions on the rehabilitation of victims of Stalinism and on the return of the cathedral to the church required significant editorial changes because the conditions in which they had been written had altered in the last few days. Other resolutions included a call for international examination of Ignalina, economic autonomy, and the end of privileges for the nomenklatura, the political and administrative elite of the republic.

The most serious discussion arose over a resolution, written in Songaila's time, expressing no confidence in the party and government leadership. Ozolas and Landsbergis pleaded with the delegates and harangued them to give Brazauskas their support, insisting that the spirit of the resolution had already been realized. Some delegates nevertheless wanted to criticize specific individuals in the government. Ozolas finally ruled that the resolution had been eliminated from the agenda without announcing any vote tally.

Even when the discussion of resolutions had finished, the work was not yet done. An Armenian, who had previously been denied the right to address the meeting, quietly told the delegates the dispute in the Caucasus over Nagorno-Karabakh was their problem too. Then Landsbergis asked the delegates to approve a protest against the Voice of America's Russian program that had called the congress "a Lithuanian nationalist congress." (The Lithuanians objected strongly to the use of the term nationalist, which has bad connotations both in Lithuanian and in Russian.)[6] The delegates rose with


a chant of "Shame, shame." Cekuolis then read the text of telegrams to Gorbachev and to Iakovlev.

Finally, with almost half the visitors' seats empty and more than half of the press corps gone (foreign correspondents were hurrying back to Moscow to meet German Chancellor Helmut Kohl), at 9:51 P.M. the 220 newly elected members of the Seimas, 202 men and 18 women, 209 of them Lithuanians, came onto the stage to the applause of the delegates, who sang the National Hymn and Ilgiausiu metu. Members of the Initiative Group came forward to make individual statements before the members of the Seimas, and at 10:10 P.M., finally left the stage, waving their flowers to the crowd.

The members of the Seimas now adjourned to the upper floor of the Sports Palace to elect the Sajudis Council, or Taryba, and the delegates in the hall were treated to songs and films. The Seimas spent six hours in its debates over the election of the Taryba. Once again friction had flared up between representatives of Kaunas and of Vilnius, and two hours passed simply in establishing the delegates' views and positions. The Kaunas delegation had come with their own slate of ten candidates for the council. Daunoras and Petkevicius both expressed disgust with the proceedings; Petkevicius later explained that his action was simply a tactic aimed at bringing the "young" people to their senses. A number of individuals, including Bulavas, Luksiene, and Marcinkevicius declared that for various reasons they would prefer not to be elected. Some seventy persons had the opportunity to speak for one minute each. The available computer proved to be inadequate for the voting system that the Seimas members decided on; the ballots had to be counted by hand. The members finally resolved that they would take the top thirty-five candi-


dates in the voting, instead of the first twenty-five as had been originally planned, and a majority would not be necessary for election.

At 5 o'clock in the morning of October 24, the Seimas reported the results of its vote to the delegates still remaining in the hall. Ozolas had received the most votes, 193 of 212, while the only Kaunasite elected, Kazimeras Uoka, received just 68. Prunskiene was the only woman elected. Once the congress had approved the election results, Landsbergis, who spoke of "two days that changed Lithuania," led them in singing the National Hymn, and the exhausted delegates could finally leave the hall. Outside they found taxi drivers ready to drive them home free of charge.[7]

The members of the Taryba had yet to face one more press conference before they could go home. (Lithuanian journalists proudly noted that all the foreigners had left.) Since Lithuanian television had already gone off the air, the conference was shown on Monday night after the "Vremia" news program. Cekuolis could hardly speak; his voice was raw, but he again presided, declaring that many of the newly elected representatives were only half alive at this point. The members of the Taryba had little to say. The congress had finally ended, and new tasks lay ahead once people had had time to rest up from the exhilarating but exhausting weekend.


11— The Sajudis Congress

Preferred Citation: Senn, Alfred Erich. Lithuania Awakening. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1990 1990.