The confidential note of the SSD, which however gained prominence in the press, made many believe that not all of Dalia Grybauskaite’s Soviet secrets were uncovered. The preemptive strike fueled the Lithuanian leader’s concern is understandable, careers of many politicians were cut short by an attempt to hide an “uncomfortable” past.
In Oscar Wilde’s Ideal Husband the con artist Mrs. Cheveley blackmailed the successful and ambitious politician Robert Chiltern with the fact that in his youth he gave a state secret away to a broker and won out in stock. The fictional blackmail victim was sympathetic and the story had a happy end where the mistakes of youth were understood and forgiven. In reality these “dark pages” becoming known has much more dire consequences for a politician than a heartfelt talk with your wife. Especially if that politician speaks loudly of ideals and patriotism. As Wilde put it in the play, “…a man who can't talk morality twice a week to a large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a serious politician.”
In modern Western politics a sure way to ruin your ratings is say, trying to achieve a certain social status with fake academic titles. There were times when plagiarism in a leader’s thesis lead to his political demise. For example, the ex-president of Hungary Pál Schmitt left office in 2013 after his doctoral thesis from 1992 was proven to be plagiarised from Bulgarian and German scientists Nikolay Georgiev and Klaus Heinemann.
In Germany the stellar career of one of the CDU/CSU leaders and close ally of Angela Merkel Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg ended in scandal as it turned out 76% of his thesis was plagiarism. Also, as it turned out the scandal happened in a noble family. Zu Guttenberg is a baron of the old dynasty linked to Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and the Prince of Liechtenstein Aloys II, while his wife Stephanie von Bismarck-Schönhausen is the grand granddaughter of Otto von Bismarck.
The effects of this debacle turned out to be so severe that the baron not only was taken off from his post as Minister of Defense in 2011, but he and his wife temporarily relocated to USA hiding their exact whereabouts from the press.
Dalia Grybauskaite also has a candidate’s of science thesis from 1988 at The Academy of Social Sciences at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
For post-Soviet Lithuania with its theory of “occupation” and persecution of “collaborationists” this is already incriminating evidence.
And even more so, considering that Grybauskaite herself has assumed the role of chief “hawk” and informal leader of Lithuanian conservators. In all fairness, we should note that her dissertation is pretty Perestroika in tone and quite NEP at its core – “Connections between communal and personal property in the functioning of personal subsistence farming”
But if the FSB bloodhounds are serious in finding compromising info in this direction, then the originality of Grybauskaite’s thesis seems a likely target.
For Soviet and post-Soviet society plagiarism is not much of an issue, but for European scrupulosity this may undo all of Grybauskaite’s influence in Brussels.
In Lithuania though, the mere fact of collaborating with “occupant forces” is much more compromising than plagiarism in scientific works. The Lithuanian political elite has long ago made the Soviet and Nazi regimes equal for the sake of ideology. At the same time in the West, collaborating with the Nazis in the 30s and 40s is a gruesome accusation. Half a year ago Germany took the legendary Derrick TV series off the air when it was uncovered that the late Horst Tappert served in the Waffen SS in his youth.
And if it was found out that anyone of the now-living European politicians collaborated with Gestapo in their youth? It’s hard to even imagine what a news bomb that would be when even suspicions of working with Stasi, whose methods were the focus of the The Lives of Others movie, is a career-killer.
For Angela Merkel her encounter with Stasi worked in her favor with the archives of the secret service containing a report that the future Bundeskanzlerin refused to become an informer and also listened to rock music and wore jeans. For other politicians though, the decision to work with the secret service is an indelible stain on their reputation. For example, suspicions of collaborating with Stasi have followed the left wing leader Gregor Gysi for a number of years with each new portion of archive information turning the talented and charismatic politician into an outcast.
In Lithuania KGB is usually likened not to Stasi, but Gestapo, and with that in mind, Dalia Grybauskaite’s biography is more of Gysi than Merkel. The Lithuanian case is more special though, seeing as Valdas Adamkus, in war times it wasn’t the allies that he collaborated with, what’s to say of the rest?
The fact that a Lithuanian leader was in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and her teaching political economics would not be so blaring if not for the backdrop of president’s anti-Soviet rhetoric, in the same vein as the Lithuanian diaspora of Illinois.
By the way, in United States tinkering with your own past also has a high price. In America there is a quiet god-fearing old man Pat Robertson, who is a Christian TV preacher. He created a successful media business – his own channel, where he brings conservative values to the flock. But trying to run for president from the Republican party ended in a media fiasco. Robertson said during the debate that he fought for America in Korea, but as it later turned out he just shipped alcohol to the officer clubs. Had he honestly said that he shipped booze, everybody would soon forget this fact from his past. But not only did Robertson decide to publicly lie, but he also mixed his lies with preaching biblical commandments. The voters couldn’t let that slide.
Dalia Grybauskaite, who’s viewed by some as candidate for chairing the European Commission, has ambitions comparable with Robertson. Will the European elites understand if it turns out that the “political preaching” of Lithiania’s leader does not match with her “collaborationist” Soviet past?
Перевод статьи: Павел Шамшиев.