Minister Linkevičius met with members of Mission Siberia 2019 having returned from Kazakhstan
On 29 July Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius met with members of Misija Sibiras’19 (Mission Siberia 2019) who returned from Kazakhstan. A team of sixteen people had had a plan to go to Krasnoyarsk in Russia this year, however, their visa applications were rejected as was the case last year, too.
“Fortunately, the project is still alive. You have returned to Lithuania having successfully fulfilled a particularly important mission which is meaningful to your lives as well as the history of Lithuania. What the Mission Siberia does is touching the tragedy of our nation,” said Minister Linkevičius.
The Mission Siberia team went to the places of confinement and deportation in the vicinity of Karaganda and Ekibastuz and looked for graves in Nur-Sultan Cemetery. The Mission visited 18 graveyards, tended to about 120 Lithuanian graves, and erected two crosses and two roadside crosses.
The team members told an emotional story about the grave they found in Karaganda where the eight-month old Nijolė, the daughter of the 93 year-old former political prisoner Jurgis Dirvonskis, was buried. In their search, the Mission members were guided by a photo which had been taken 70 years ago and Dirvonskis’ memories which stood for their map.
The leaders of the Mission Siberia expressed their gratitude to the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Vilnius and the people they met in Kazakhstan. Vitalijus Tvarijonas, Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Karaganda, was a great help during this year’s as well as last year’s expedition.
There are no precise data, but it is estimated that approximately 90 thousand Lithuanians were imprisoned in the Karlag labour camps in Kazakhstan. Up to five thousand Lithuanians still live in Kazakhstan, the majority of them are former deportees or political prisoners.