Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/lith_law.txt


                     By Vytautas Landsbergis
                     President of Lithuania

	There is no shortage of advice for solving the Lithuanian
question these days.  But to solve the problem, one has to
understand it.  The latest trend, in both Soviet and western
circles, is to urge "a fair and objective" way out of the stalemate
for all parties concerned -- the Soviet Union, Lithuania and the
western governments, who are under public pressure to support our
drive for independence.  However some of the offered solutions are
neither fair nor objective.
	Soviet spokesmen argue that the unruly Lithuanians should
respect and follow orderly Soviet constitutional procedures.  They
concede that the Lithuanians are entitled to independence if they
want it.  But as a "constituent part of the Soviet Union," the
LIthuanians must abide by the procedures of Soviet law that could
make their independence possible.
	The basic flaw in this argument is that Lithuania is not
seeking to establish independence, it is working to restore an
independent state that was illegally suppressed by a foreign power
and its army.  It is not calling for secession from the Soviet
Union, because it never legally joined it.  This is not just a
legal nicety, but the basic and nonnegotiable premise of our March
11 declaration of independence.
	When Soviet spokesmen speak of the right to secession, this
right does not apply to Lithuania:  it is not legally tenable.  The
Baltic countries, Lithuania included, have always maintained, and
the world recognizes, that they were illegally incorporated into
the Soviet Union.  The Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet
Union last December itself declared illegal the document that gave
birth to the Soviet occupation: the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
	Under Soviet law, Gorbachev says that Lithuania's right to
self-determination can be realized only through the mechanism he
approves and provides.  After all, we are told, he is not denying
our right to self-rule, he is merely contesting the pace of
secession.  We don't believe he has any intention of letting
Lithuania or the Baltic states secede - legally or otherwise. The
law gives the Congress of People's Deputies - to which,it must be
recalled, Gorbachev appointed himself and 99 of his Communist
colleagues -- the right to veto secession by any Soviet republic,
even if two thirds of its registered voters express their desire
for independence.
	Though we are not bound by any Soviet constitution, our
actions of March 11 were fully consistent with a constitutional
provision that provides each Soviet republic's legislature with the
right to secede.  Moreover the Soviet constitution states that the
USSR is a voluntary union of states.
	If the USSR enjoyed a system of checks and balances similar
to the U.S. system, along with an independent Supreme Court that
could rule on the legality of decisions by the Soviet legislature
and executive, then a "Soviet SUpreme Court" would approve the
restoration of independence in the Baltic states because their
forcible incorporation contradicts the "voluntary union" clause of
the Soviet constitution;  and not permit the retroactive
application of punitive law.
	But that -retroactive application of a punitive law - is
precisely what the Congress of People's Deputies has tried to do
by declaring our March 11 vote invalid because it contradicted a
secession law that did not even exist on March 11.
	The April 5 secession legislation adopted by the USSR's
Supreme SOviet requires that, to secede, a republic must conduct
a referendum.  Since no referendum was held in 1940 to determine
whether we wished to nullify our independence and to join the USSR,
why is a referendum needed now to determine whether this forcible
incorporation should be ended?
	We have no illusions about our economic dependence on and
interrelationship with Moscow, but we find it hard to understand
why in this day and age, a master-slave relationship should
continue or even be encouraged as a solution to the problem,
surprisingly enough, by some western friends.
	Our elections of February 24 were democratic and legitimate. 
Pro-independence candidates proposed by the Sajudis party swept the
elections under the campaign slogan of democracy and independence
for Lithuania.  Sajudis' political platform differed from its main
opponent, the breakaway Lithuanian Communist Party, in that it
advocated complete political independence as soon as possible with
normal, diplomatic relations with Moscow on equal footing, whereas
the LCP leadership still spoke in indeterminate terms of Lithuanian
sovereignty "within the USSR."
	In addition to elections, the will of the Lithuanian people
has been expressed many times at mass demonstrations and it at
least two major petition drives:  In 1988, 1.8 million out of a
population of 3.5 million rejected Soviet constitutional amendments
that restricted the republic's sovereign rights.  And last year,
1.6 million called for the renunciation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop
pact and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Lithuania.  In light
of these political realities, how can we possibly plan and decide
our destiny by Moscow's rules and Moscow's terms?  We cannot brush
off our political mandate.
	Moscow has expressed its displeasure in recent weeks with a
barrage of verbal and physical threats, blockades and other acts
of force against our people.  If the Soviet Union continues to use
force to crush and smother Lithuanian independence, if Gorbachev
attempts to keep Lithuania in the Soviet fold as a hostile captive,
we will all lose.  He will prove that perestroika is a collection
of failed policies and not a genuine transition to democracy.
	But if Gorbachev extends democracy to his own backyard and
recognizes the democratically elected government of neighboring
Lithuania, if he presides over the peaceful dissolution of the last
living empire on this earth, if he deals with us as equal, friendly
partners, we will all benefit.  And he would take his place as a
great man in history.
	The real problem is not Lithuanian independence, but how
Moscow views itself.  Our vote for freedom is forcing Moscow to
take a stand - for democracy or for preservation of the "holy"
Soviet empire.  Instead of facing the issue head on, the Soviet
Union is focusing on a little antagonist, which was never an
antagonist to begin with.  In this pitifully unequal battle, Moscow
is its own worst enemy.

Translated by Ginte Damusis.
Printed in New York Newsday.
April 27, 1990.