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  • Why the idea of Russian invasion in the Baltics is absurdity
    in the first place Clearly even the most idiotic and risky Russian decision maker would not dare checking the resolve of US France Germany and others to implement section 5 over the Baltic States In fact the very speculation on this topic from the Russian side may only be a manifestation of propaganda in action The image of Putin as a Mad Man ready to nuke Riga Vilnius or Warsaw is promoted only for one purpose to scare Europeans into compromising over Ukraine Every nearby border drill and military exercise is a sign a gesture from Putin with a label Yes I can when in fact No he can t But as it turns out people in the Baltics do take the risk of being attacked by Russia seriously which only serves to make the Kremlin keep sending the same message Considering the options at hand it seems that if tensions grow higher leaders of the Baltic States would rather compromise than risk being annihilated or re occupied by Russian troops Thus the Kremlin continues the scare game For people in the Baltics bordering Russia seems like a Russian roulette when in fact there is no bullet in the gun Putin is no idiot and he would never risk his well being for incalculable profit Indeed what could Russia possibly gain from attacking or even occupying the Baltics Nothing really Outside the propaganda war where a Russian territory grab seems unmotivated and chaotic it has its own logic and risk assessment And an attack on the Baltics is clearly a suicide recipe Even the most dubious Russian imperialists such as neo Eurasianists do not see the Baltic States as a potential target of annexation due to the complete cultural otherness and irreversible latinization of the Baltic States It seems that the only solid argument for the possibility of Russian intensification in the Baltics is the discrimination of ethnic Russians who according to the Russkiy Mir doctrine Russia has to protect and provide for Theoretically it could serve as casus belli but in order for that to happen the governments of the Baltic States would in fact have to severely discriminate against the Russian minorities It is hardly possible and even that might not be a reason for Russia to act at all Right after the collapse of the Soviet Union thousands of ethnic Russians were killed in the Central Asian states and Russia didn t act on it at all The Baltic States should not be afraid of Russian invasion or any other sort of direct physical assault for the east What could happen and in fact is happening is a combination of psychological warfare with drills exercises and hacker attacks directed to produce fear and readiness to compromise over values The other danger is the propaganda that is targeting ethnic Russians who in fact should become the frontline of defense for the European values freedom and progress The Baltic States have the largest ethnic Russian population in the entire

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/why_the_idea_of_russian_invasion_in_the_baltics_is_absurdity/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Lithuanian NGOs grapple with state’s mistrust and shady image
    of issues Unfortunately the wide focus on many occasions is about one thing applying for a project that can bring some financing along the way But that is not the way it supposed to be obviously Аnd make sure a lot of the chairs of the multi tasking NGOs are good decent and hard working people but the whole system and circumstances put them in a situation like this And again perhaps on a harsher note let me note that there are a number of shady pseudo NGOs that are not in any way different from a commercial venture an ordinary joint stock company They just obviously act differently on the issue of profit sharing This is also something the foreigners cannot grasp honestly I reckon NGOs in more let me say commercialised sectors like sports for example hold an advantage against those sincerely toiling in less commerce wise attractive fields like education for example What can you say in that regard Without doubt this is another thing worth considering Sponsors in sport are more active and the reason is simple business can get a more tangible and faster benefit from supporting sports particularly basketball or football for example And it works simply in many cases a business becomes a sport or sport event s sponsor in exchange for being able to put an advertising poster on the pitch or let s say a logo on the athletes T shirts In this case it is all about the fame of the team athlete or a sport event But it obviously does not work that way in the sector of culture where attracting one to sponsor a culture event especially if it is not targeting an already established brand a famous performer for example is always a difficult task As usual the approached possible sponsor asks the same question how can I benefit from it Although I don t have any statistics showcasing donors different approach to the fields but the difference is certainly big When it comes to supporting Lithuanian children our study on children welfare oriented NGOs showed that at the dawn of the restoration of Lithuanian independence there were large donations for the cause both from Scandinavian and US funds But now the donors are quite spiritless in that regard as if sending a message that job has been done and Lithuania can ride it itself How did it change the game Look with the shift predicted the state was supposed to hand over certain children wellbeing services to non governmental organizations which are here for the state But regrettably local municipalities have been mistrusting and still are mistrusting the non governmental sector or maybe in some cases want to govern the resources themselves so they still are little entrusting local NGOs with the task So not surprisingly with no money for the work they are the best for many NGOs are focused on participation in projects that can give them any financing Lack of competence is also

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/lithuanian_ngos_grapple_with_state___s_mistrust_and_shady_image/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Why sanctions on Russia don’t work
    but at Russia and its citizens In January 69 of Russians supported the Kremlin s policy in Ukraine according to a poll by the independent Levada Center To be sure Putin s support is not rock solid indeed there is widespread suspicion about corruption in his government But Russians have a long tradition of defending their compatriots from outsiders And in this case the compatriots under attack are Putin and his government Russian propaganda taps a deep well of nationalism artfully playing off sentiments and imagery from World War II Known in the country as the Great Patriotic War the effort to defend the country from German invasion remains sacred to many Russians That is why the Kremlin has repackaged derogatory historical terms like Nazis to refer to Ukraine s current political elites Russian society has been militarized for decades if not centuries Military preparedness was one of the most important shared values in the Soviet Union a sentiment captured in the slogan emblazoned on the badges issued to children who excelled in athletics Ready for Work and Defence It is in this context that Putin has been able to use Western pressure as a tool to regain the support of many Russians who only a few years ago would have felt detached from if not alienated by his government Presented with a real or imagined threat to the fatherland the average Russian supports the country s leaders Nor is the Russian middle class which makes up some 20 30 of the population likely to pose much of a threat to Putin With many of its members owing their recent wealth to high oil prices and the economic recovery of the 2000s loyalty to the Putin regime is one of the Russian middle class s abiding characteristics Russian opinion polling and sociological research tends to show that the higher one s position in society the more likely one is to vote for the incumbents The motives behind such voting patterns may vary some voters made a fortune during the economic recovery while others are simply satisfied with the status quo But the bottom line is that such voters demonstrate a fundamental loyalty to the state and the regime Indeed only a small portion of the middle class attended the protests that gathered force in late 2011 and early 2012 most of them concentrated in Moscow And in any case Putin s clampdown on dissent was predictably ruthless He tightened legislation aimed at throttling civil society pursued lawsuits against protesters and blocked the activity of Alexei Navalny a promising opposition politician These efforts have had a lasting effect on the groups that were at the heart of the protest movement Russians of all walks of life have shown that they prefer passive adaptation over protest In the face of growing economic pressures Russia s middle class is steering clear of political involvement The working class is no different The more the West increases its pressure the less likely it becomes that

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/why_sanctions_on_russia_don___t_work/ (2016-02-13)
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  • How to cultivate happiness in the Baltic States?
    inhabitants are happier than those of Belarus Russia and Ukraine Why does this matter After all the WHR and the HPI are not the only indexes measuring happiness there are other indexes to consider based on Quality of Life Well Being and even the Good Country Index So inhabitants of the Baltics should perhaps take these happiness scores with a grain of salt especially the HPI which is really more about environmental sustainability than people What s more it certainly raises eyebrows to see some of the discrepancies between the two rankings with Very High Human Development countries like Australia New Zealand and the USA scoring lower in the 2009 HPI than Lithuania and Latvia and lower High Human Development countries Belarus 66 and Russia 68 scoring higher in the WHR Nevertheless some people are starting to take happiness more seriously and the UN now marks an International Day of Happiness on March 20th From my perspective as a Canadian expat in Lithuania the gross national happiness GNH of Baltic citizens will not grow if the politics of fear and paranoia is promoted if Russia is seen as the eternal villain while Europe is seen unquestioningly as the temporal saviour Trade and business with Russia must continue and grow at the same time as new economic and political links with the rest of the EU are being developed If either shrinks disproportionately then Baltic prosperity and social cohesion will suffer as well Neither will NATO tanks planes soldiers weapons and sabre rattling make the Baltic States happier They might lessen fear or provide a feeling of security but that alone won t lead to joy or hope in the face of decline depression and despair caused by militarisation Money spent on weapons of war and defence could instead be invested in the nation in many other ways Besides positive socialisation must begin at home and only then can it extend to one s neighbours Blaming one s neighbour displays a sickness in itself it shows fear instead of courage and gloom instead of hope Is this the kind of identity and image that the Baltic States want to nurture let alone project to the world Many Canadians define their national identity by what they are not namely not citizens of the USA It is often easier to identify with what one isn t than with what one is with what makes one unhappy instead of happy But happiness cannot be defined by the negative it must embrace the positive Would looking at and meditating lengthily upon J Maciunas s piece of art USA Surpasses all the Genocide Records be likely to lead one to happiness One way to change the happiness map in the Baltic States would be to award people for cultivating happiness instead of dwelling on despair or fear To promote this let the Baltic countries put on the world s first Global Happiness Games What better place to do it than here where happiness is said to

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/how_to_cultivate_happiness_in_the_baltic_states_/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Last Chance for Ukraine and Europe
    hybrid peace and Ukraine and its allies are struggling to respond The deterioration of Ukraine s situation is accelerating The financial collapse of which I had been warning for months occurred in February when the hryvnia s value plummeted 50 in a few days and the National Bank of Ukraine had to inject large amounts of money to rescue the banking system The climax was reached on February 25 when the central bank introduced import controls and raised interest rates to 30 Since then President Petro Poroshenko s jawboning has brought the exchange rate back close to the level on which Ukraine s 2015 budget was based But the improvement is extremely precarious This temporary collapse has shaken public confidence and endangered the balance sheets of Ukrainian banks and companies that have hard currency debts It has also undermined the calculations on which Ukraine s programs with the International Monetary Fund are based The IMF s Extended Fund Facility became insufficient even before it was approved But EU member states facing their own fiscal constraints have shown no willingness to consider additional bilateral aid So Ukraine continues to teeter on the edge of the abyss At the same time a radical reform program within Ukraine is gaining momentum and slowly becoming visible to both the Ukrainian public and the European authorities There is a stark contrast between the deteriorating external situation and the continuing progress in internal reforms This gives the situation in Kyiv an air of unreality One plausible scenario is that Putin achieves his optimal objective and Ukraine s resistance crumbles Europe would be flooded with refugees two million seems to be a realistic estimate Many people expect that this would mark the beginning of Cold War II The likelier outcome is that a victorious Putin would have many friends in Europe and that the sanctions on Russia would be allowed to lapse That is the worst possible outcome for Europe which would become even more divided turning into a battleground for influence between Putin s Russia and the United States The EU would cease to be a functioning political force in the world especially if Greece also left the eurozone A more likely scenario is that Europe muddles through by drip feeding Ukraine Ukraine does not collapse but the oligarchs reassert themselves and the new Ukraine begins to resemble the old Ukraine Putin would find this almost as satisfactory as a complete collapse But his victory would be less secure as it would lead to a second Cold War that Russia would lose just as the Soviet Union lost the first Putin s Russia needs oil at 100 a barrel and will start running out of currency reserves in 2 3 years The latest chapter in what I call the Tragedy of the European Union is that the EU will lose the new Ukraine The principles that Ukraine is defending the very principles on which the EU is based will be abandoned and the EU will have

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/last_chance_for_ukraine_and_europe/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Life in The Bus Lane
    there isn t any routine because you are not driving through a forest or a desert where you can know everything A trolleybus driver needs to think about everyone else on the road You need to know what your passengers will do what s in the mind of every pedestrian cyclist and every person who sits in their car We need to know everything about everyone Every round is like a new adventure Of course you know your stops special bus lanes and every hole in the road but the situations and conditions are different every time you go through your route What makes your work harder People People are getting more and more careless and irresponsible They are more worried just about themselves not about what is happening around them I think that everyone who has worked with people has encountered their arrogance Their questions on why something isn t ready yet or why the trolleybus isn t already at the bus stop waiting for them And I think that that is the worst thing This intolerance against the trolleybus What has been the worst situation you have experienced during your work Once when I was working at night right next to my trolleybus someone fired teargas and because the doors were open it flew into my cabin Now I know what teargas is I even had to stop and go clean my eyes because I couldn t keep driving because I couldn t see a thing Thankfully I have never been in a huge accident like the one that happened on Aleksandra Caka Street But because I am a big fighter for justice I have had some complaints about my actions One time I wanted the best for everyone and told some woman to look after children because they were playing and pushing each other right next to the place where the trolleybus was meant to stop and where it was dangerous to play around Because of this warning that woman wrote a two page complaint about my bad behaviour It has been more than a month since the ticket price was raised Has the number of people in public transport changed For a couple of days while there were these protests about the public transport price rises there were less people but now everything is back to normal and nothing has changed I don t think that some pensioners will walk on foot to the market just because the ticket prices now are higher They still will use public transport Maybe there are more stowaways but no huge changes Has the attitude of passengers towards the drivers changed as a result of the price increases No not because of the price increases But their attitude changed after the news in media when they said that the trolleybus driver was responsible for the accident that happened last year on Aleksandra Caka Street even though there has not been a trial yet Drivers were called murderers and I heard

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/life_in_the_bus_lane/ (2016-02-13)
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  • A nation’s genetics, including its fears, are handed on from one generation to the next
    the reason for this disparity Perhaps no other country in Eastern and Central Europe has been so polycentric meaning having many pretty equally and similarly developed towns as Lithuania We developed quite a few of them during the Soviet years Siauliai Panevezys Klaipeda Alytus to name a few In terms of development because of Lithuania s historical background we do not have like other Eastern and Central European countries some major hubs but a string of similar sized towns With the new economic formation in place capital investments have gone mostly to the largest cities to Vilnius Klaipeda аnd to a lesser extent to Kaunas This is happening in other countries too but unlike them internal emigration in Lithuania moving from the smaller towns which were industrial hubs in the Soviet period to the large cities particularly Vilnius is weak Besides and which is characteristic of polycentric countries only very limited social relations among them have developed over the years In other words people living for example in Samogitia a cultural region in northwestern Lithuania had a very opaque understanding of what is going in Vilnius the state s capital Nowadays note this the people in the province now have more social contacts with their relatives in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia for example than in Vilnius or any other Lithuanian region This is also very important when it comes to somebody s decision where to go Understandably the person will be therefore rather choosing England than Vilnius How popular is the United Kingdom among emigrants The country remains the dominant destination for Lithuanian emigrants though the numbers of UK bound emigration are no so overwhelming nowadays as they were a couple of years ago Scandinavia has been on the rise as well with many new emigrants leaving for these countries over the last three years Notably fewer Lithuanians are decamping nowadays to Ireland which was severely hit by the 2008 2010 recession London and its vicinities though remain among the top UK destinations London has got through the economic crunch quite smoothly and saw more Lithuanians coming therefore Lithuania does have really strong social relations with the UK capital so when it comes to leaving for the UK the destination is pretty clear As London is a major world hub many emigrants tend to say it s easier to get assimilated into the community Needless to say the language barrier also plays a significant role when selecting country for departure The UK has an advantage there too Lithuanian economists and planners estimate Lithuania will catch up with the Western Europe in terms of salaries and benefits in 50 years at least Does that mean we will be seeing off our compatriots until 2065 at least Well indeed this is really a very subtle question The bottom line is that emigration has been constant throughout Lithuania s history Speaking about the issue in a broader sense some scholars even believe that emigration is part of our genetics and biology some

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/a_nation___s_genetics__including_its_fears__are_handed_on_from_one_generation_to_the_next/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Russia’s very pragmatic “allies”
    Astana and Minsk strongly opposed Russia s interpretation of the events in Ukraine Moreover both Lukashenka and Nazarbayev openly approached President Poroshenko and proposed their help and support to the Ukrainian people on several occasions Appearance is terrifically important to Putin s Russia whether in the domestic or international domain And its lack of public support mixed with condemnation of Moscow s Ukrainian policy by its closest allies was highly irritating for the Kremlin To some extent the Belarusian president was much more successful than the president of Kazakhstan Both have tried to act as mediators by hosting peace talks but only Lukashenka has been successful The man famously known as the last dictator in Europe has become the peace broker and passed his former title over to his big brother to the East Russia s game in Ukraine has nothing in store for Kazakhstan and Belarus Clearly every moral historical and patriotic sentiment Russia s propaganda uses to justify the Kremlin s actions do not work for people of Belarus even more Kazakhstan The more Russia clashes with the West the less its neighbors wish to be at any way related to Moscow and its agenda Along the desire not to suffer politically from being part of the Russian world Minsk and Astana are trying to protect themselves from the economic burdens that the recent crisis has brought The turbulence in the Russian economy and the ruble devaluation has hit Kazakhstan and Belarus more than any other nations directly because of their close relations with Russia through the Eurasian Economic Union Kazakhstan which has suffered from the flow of cheapening Russian exports has considered placing an embargo on some Russian goods Belarus has threatened to leave the Union if Russia doesn t stop discriminating against Belarus transits through Russia effectively undermining the cornerstones of the Customs Union provisions Any further significant degradation of Russian economic and political situation is a direct threat to the security and stability of Lukashenka s and Nazarbayev s regimes With no option to slam the door on Russia s Eurasian project or other mutual agreements Minsk and Astana have begun a step by step improvement of their relations with the West But as long as Russia holds it together none of its allies would dare to publicly abandon Putin and turn 180 degrees towards Europe But one could not miss all the prep work the last dictator in Europe and Central Asia s oldest ruler is doing Lukashenka has been quite efficient in voicing his readiness to improve his relations with the West especially the EU which may already result in his participation in the Eastern Partnership summit in Latvia this May For someone who has been a persona non grata this is a breakthrough Kazakhstan went out of its way to initial a new partnership agreement with the EU which should be signed by the end of this year Although it is possible that this agreement will not mean much for bilateral relations

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/russia___s_very_pragmatic____allies___/ (2016-02-13)
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