KEYWORDS: gorbachev, russia, lithuania, lord, lithuanians, world

Baltics Deserve Their Freedom, The

David Berg

DO 2615 4/90

1. At the time of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917‚ the Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia were part of "White Russia." They fought for their independence & against "Red" Russia along with the Allies. After the Russian Revolution, the Allies sent an Army over there to fight the Reds, & the Baltic forces fought together with the White Russians. All the people that could, fled into White Russia to get out of Communist Russia.

2. As I recall, the Allies were not able to conquer the Red Armies, but at least they more or less held the line. They managed to hold just the three little Baltic Republics, & after WW1, they were given their freedom & independence‚ because they didn't want any part of Red Russia. All three of them are very strong Christian states, mainly Catholic.

3. According to that Peace Treaty, they managed to stay free until WW2. Then during the war when everybody was busy, Stalin grabbed'm! He just marched in & took'm over with his tanks, guns & troops. Some of these guys like Stalin don't seem to care much about World opinion at all. They just go around doing as they please & "to Hell with the rest of the World!"—Just exactly like Israel does & like Russia had been doing until Gorbachev came into power. Gorbachev seems to be a lot more conscious of World opinion.

4. Things were going along so good! Gorbachev was letting the East Bloc countries go with no problem, & even encouraged them. But he's being much more reluctant & hard-line with the Baltic Republics, as they are actually an integral part of the Soviet Union; the East Bloc nations were at least nominally independent sovereign states.

5. I can remember the sad day when Russia just walked in & took over Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia. Stalin had made a pact with Hitler in the days right before World War 2, in which they sort of divvied up Europe between them. Then after the war‚ the Allies came back & met Stalin & divvied it up again!—But I don't think they should have just given those countries which they'd taken from the Nazis back to Russia—Poland, East Germany & all the Baltics & Balkans—just because Russia drove the Nazis out of them! That was a pretty big booty!

6. The Lithuanians had their independence before WW2 & the U.S. has never recognised the Russian take-over‚ when Stalin saw his chance & grabbed'm! At the time there was a big howl from the Free West, "No‚ no! What are you doing? You shouldn't do that!"—But they didn't do a damn thing about it! For about 20 years—from the close of World War 1 until just before the opening of World War 2—the Baltic Republics were independent, & they had been independent before that. So they certainly deserve their freedom!

7. As I recall, that's an area that used to be held by Sweden. They're much more like Scandinavians than Russians; they speak a similar language & everything. Peter the Great was the one who grabbed the Baltics away from them. He fought wars with Sweden to grab that area back around 1700, because he wanted to expand Russia & wanted to have more territory on the Baltic Sea. Before that, they had been under the King of Sweden. I think this goes clear back to those war-like tribes from Scandinavia, the Vikings‚ who were quite aggressive & conquered all that territory, even sweeping down over England. They were very expansive, they conquered England for a time & swept deep into Russia, influencing Lithuania & the rest of the Baltics.

8. So the Scandinavians came across the sea from Sweden & down from Finland, & the Baltics became more like the Scandinavian countries than Russia. The Russian language & culture is more Slavic, but the Baltic countries were more Scandinavian & more like the Western Europeans. I know my father sure didn't like it when Russia grabbed those three Baltic States back! They just took'm by force!

9. And now apparently Gorbachev doesn't want to give them their freedom. What Russia is objecting to is that the Lithuanians are some of their best producers of manufactured goods, electrical supplies & all kinds of things. They've had a very high standard of living &, you might say, more freedom & more culture, like the Europeans. You sure can't blame them for wanting to be free now!

10. Gorbachev is saying that declaring their independence is a mistake & they shouldn't do it & they can't do it, that they can't be economically free because they're too closely tied to Russia.—And besides, they get nearly all their fuel, gas, oil & energy from Russia. He's got them pretty hog-tied on that, but they say they're willing to endure hardship, they'd still rather be free.

11. (Maria: I thought one big problem was that if he grants the Baltics their independence, then many of the other Soviet Republics will want their independence too! It's like a domino effect; they'd all leave!) Everybody thought that of course Gorbachev would allow them to break loose, since he let Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia‚ Hungary, Bulgaria & Romania go.—That's six countries he set free, & the rest of them just took it for granted he was going to let them go too.

12. Obviously he doesn't want Azerbaijan to go because it's a big oil-producing Republic.—And he doesn't want to lose Armenia, which is right next to Azerbaijan. Nor does he want the Ukraine to go. Those are three other Republics that want to go! So if he loses those three on the South, & the three Baltics on the North, that would be six Soviet Republics to leave the Union!

13. It's in the Soviet Constitution that they can leave the Union if they wish. But you can see what happens when they try to!—Like when the South wanted to secede from the Union in the United States!—Ha! They found out the Union wasn't so voluntary after all! The North fought a big heavy Civil War to prevent the South from leaving.—And it looks like Gorbachev is up to something like that too, even though the Soviet Constitution says they can leave voluntarily. It shows you how governments can say one thing & then do another! He says, "Oh yes, it's legal for you to leave—but you've got to do it this way & that way & wait five years" & all that kind of stuff!

14. So I think the Lithuanians have just decided to give it a test & see if he'll stick to his pledge of no violence. He's threatened to cut off their gas & oil & all, but he hasn't yet. (He has now!) He's given deadlines & made threats, but he hasn't done anything serious yet & they're really stretching his patience.

15. What the Lithuanians are saying is, "We've already declared our independence. Now let's talk." Gorbachev is saying, "You rescind your declaration of independence & then we'll talk." He refuses to talk as long as they're still declaring their independence. So it's going to be interesting to see just how far this is going to go without violence! Most governments & countries are not very well known for their peacefulness & refusing to resort to violence. But Gorbachev has made his non–violent declaration & the whole World is waiting to see if he will stick to it, because countries usually don't.

16. He's tried to collect all of the guns from Lithuania, but very few of them came in! They've still got more arms. And he's tried to draft the young men into the Russian Army, as usual, but most of them have refused to go.

17. The Lithuanians admit they're going to have to do a lot of negotiating to straighten everything out, who keeps what etc., & one of the biggest problems is that there are an awful lot of Russians who live there now. A lot of Russians have moved in, comprising almost 10% of their population, besides‚ of course, a big Soviet Army presence there.

18. So we're still living in dangerous times! The White House Spokesman, Fitzwater, was saying something about, "We have no plans to intervene." Good night! I shouldn't think they would! That's the quickest way they could start a war between the U.S. & Russia! The bombs would begin to fall if the U.S. would try to go over there & intervene! That would be completely out of order, & about the most dangerous thing the U.S. could do! Gorbachev got mad that the U.S. even chided him for resisting the secession! But there's quite a political game going on. Like they say, Gorbachev wants this peace very much so he can get on with his perestroika. He really wants good relations with the U.S. so he can keep good World opinion.

19. Everybody has been praising Gorbachev as such a great peacemaker & liberator of oppressed people, but about all he has liberated so far in Russia is the news! The Russians now feel they can speak more freely & are not always spied on by the KGB every night etc. That has been a great gain, to more or less get their political liberty & more elections & be able to speak freely, removing censorship of the news & all of that.

20. He seemed to be doing such a great job of it all, & apparently the Baltics thought that while all those other countries were leaving, it was a good time for them to leave & declare their independence. But all of a sudden, to everybody's surprise, Gorbachev has stiffly & firmly rejected it & resisted it! He's not using force, but he does rattle the sabre by sending military flights overhead & tanks rolling through the streets with trucks & soldiers moving around to try to scare the Lithuanians. But obviously they're pretty brave & pretty firm, they refuse to be scared!

21. So everybody is waiting to see what happens! The Lithuanians have declared their position, but they're not doing anything about it. They're not resisting with arms or anything, they're just sitting still & keeping quiet. They're asking to talk things over‚ to make the deliberations on how to separate them. It's Gorbachev that's making all the fuss & threatening & rattling arms etc.

22. But Bush is getting a little stiffer now. He's just as good as threatening that this will stop the progress of U.S. relations with Russia & may even cancel the upcoming Summit etc. He's even suggesting that if Gorbachev cuts off Lithuania's gas & oil, he'll help them get it some place else!

23. Lithuania has an office in Washington called a Legation, which more or less handles its business affairs. The U.S. has not changed its status into an Embassy, as a free country; they're still calling it a Legation. The head of the Lithuanian Legation is saying that all the homes, hospitals, old folks' homes, everything is heated by gas‚ & its cutoff is the worst threat. He said‚ "We're not so worried about the oil cutoff, we've got quite a stockpile already & we can get it other places, but that gas cutoff is really a threat!"—Because they really are dependent on gas.

24. (Maria: Are there any countries in the World that are completely self-sufficient?) Honey, no man is an island‚ no country is completely self-sufficient. More & more the nations of the World need each other & are dependent on each other. About the only peoples that are really self-sufficient are the savage tribes that live back in the bush‚ & they only live at the tolerance of the civilised cultures. The ones that hunt with bows & arrows are about the only ones that are self-sufficient!—Ha! The whole World is caught in an interlocking fabric of dependence on each other for this & that.

25. I presume the Lithuanians didn't have much say about the way Russia constructed their infrastructure‚ so if Russia decided she wanted to sell them cheap gas for all their homes & buildings, they just took it! The Lithuanians are quite dependent, that's the problem. They can't really be independent because they're quite dependent on Russia. But they say they're going to stand firm & they're not going to back down. They're just going to try to sit it out & see what happens. All the so-called action so far has been talk from Gorbachev. The Lithuanians are just sitting tight, sitting on their declaration. They are not independent & they haven't got independence yet, but at least they've declared it, ha!

26. Their declaration is all talk! And on the other side, Gorbachev hasn't really done anything serious yet, & that's still all talk. So we'll see how things work out. It's a kind of "wait-&-see" game now. The new moves are all on Gorbachev's part. The Lithuanians are not doing anything more now on the subject, they're just holding tight to their position of so-called independence, & it's now up to Gorbachev to see what he'll do.

27. Actually, the Russians could have walked in & taken the place over with no problem, even without much force!—And they just about have because they've already got a war of words at the moment. With all their mighty forces they already have right there, the Russians could squash Lithuania like a little bug!

28. So in a way Gorbachev is showing quite a bit of patience & tolerance. He hasn't resorted to force or violence yet. He's mostly just breathing out threatenings while the Lithuanians are just sitting there stubbornly refusing to withdraw their declaration. So at the moment it seems mostly words, & we don't know just how far they'll go.

29. But if Gorbachev persists in his stubbornness of refusing to let them go free, the U.S. is also threatening that it will ruin their detente etc., that they cannot go ahead with an improvement of relations. Even Japan said that they don't agree with Gorbachev's refusal to free Lithuania. Of course, Japan is in a precarious situation‚ they're right off the coast of Russia.

30. In fact, Russia grabbed a couple of Japan's islands during the last days of WW2! Those were the grabbing days! Russia seized the war as an opportunity to grab whatever it could, if it was lying around loose! Those Northernmost islands of Japan, the Kuril Islands‚ are closer to Russia than they are to Japan, so Russia grabbed'm & deported all the Japanese! And that's why Japan & Russia have never signed a formal Peace Treaty yet. Japan refused to, because Russia refused to give back their islands. So Japan doesn't like Russia too much either. Russia won't free their islands, & they don't like it that Russia won't free the Baltic countries.—A good chance for Japan to put in a protest!

31. So that's the way the situation stands at present—rather shakey & tottery. As far as the big flood of goodwill that Gorbachev was getting, now everybody has sort of stood still & they're not making any progress in better relations because of the way he is acting towards the Baltics. And despite promises of refusal to use violence, countries have changed their minds about that a lot of times—in fact, usually!

32. Gorbachev has a lot more to lose as far as World relations & opinions. If he makes good on all his threats, this Lithuania affair may be one of the worst mistakes Gorbachev ever made! He thinks he is gaining Lithuania, but he is losing the World! (Maria: Yes‚ but if his whole country is going to fall apart, he probably figures, "Well, who cares about the World if I don't have a country!") Gorbachev had the whole World in the palm of his hand. He was the most popular leader on Earth & had favourable worldwide opinion, everything! Now he's turning the whole World against him by this Lithuania stunt!

33. It could be that Lithuania was a bit premature in declaring its independence within the flood of euphoria over the freedom of the East Bloc. They apparently thought they could get away with it & sort of misjudged Gorbachev's goodwill. It didn't stretch quite that far! He was willing to let other countries go, but not what he considers his own! It might have been a little wiser if they had moved a little slower & worked it out in conjunction with Moscow. Lithuania's been a part of the Soviet Union, really, & its whole economic structure & everything is interwoven with Russia's. It would take a little while to get them untangled. In that respect I can understand why Gorbachev thinks they need a little more time, but the five years he suggested is a little bit drawn-out! I guess Lithuania figured if they drew it out that long, Russia might never let them go!

34. Anyhow, we shall see! It doesn't look likely that Gorbachev is going to let them go without a struggle. Let's just hope it's not war or violence, because of course the Lithuanians couldn't resist anyhow.

35. From his way of thinking, Gorbachev is being fairly patient. And who knows what pressure there is behind him from the Conservatives & the hard-line Communists, Ligachev & his crowd who don't want any of this to happen. So if Gorbachev lets things go a little too far, if the resistance pushes the Russians a little too far, those who are opposing Gorbachev might just run out of patience and set him aside and get somebody tougher, like the Antichrist! It's all heading that way anyway, that's the way it's going.

36. Well, Lord, it's up to You! You know what's best. Have Thy way! You work it out, Lord. Help those dear Christians of Lithuania to work things out to try to keep the peace, & Gorbachev, too. Thy Will be done!—In Jesus' name‚ amen!


37. Lord‚ You correct Gorbachev in some way. Show him that he is treading on dangerous ground in opposing the freedom of the Lithuanian Christians, a very Christian country. Thank You for preventing them from perpetrating any actual violence against the Lithuanians.

38. Just because the Russian Communists went in with their troops & possessed a few buildings that belong to them in Lithuania, that's nothing. Help the Lithuanians to remain calm, Lord‚ & non-violent. We believe, Lord, that Gorbachev is just protecting himself from the fanatic‚ violent Communists of his own country by trying to keep things together.

39. Give the Lithuanians great wisdom, Lord, especially the Christians‚ in how to stay calm & not be violent & not cause themselves any more trouble. You said, Lord, to "agree with thine adversary whilst thou art in the way with him" lest you cause yourself a lot of trouble.—Mat. 5:25. So Lord, help them to continue to be patient & non-violent & wise, to try to help Gorbachev to appease his enemies & maintain his position, in Jesus' name. Give them patience‚ Lord!

40. They've declared their position, Lord, & they've voted for it, now help them to take a stand & trust You & be patient.—And help Gorbachev to save face with his enemies. We really believe he is sincere & really trying to save his country & continue on his drive for freedom. Help him‚ Lord, in Jesus' name, if he's sincere at all, & we believe he is. Give him wisdom & help him, & give him patience, Lord. Don't let him be provoked into doing something foolish.

41. You promised, Lord‚ that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."—Jam.5:16. I don't know how effectual or fervent my prayer is, but I'm praying it, & I'm just asking You to please help them keep the peace & not upset things while he is trying to keep the peace & retain freedom in these Last Days.—And to keep the peace & openness of those countries so we can help evangelise those precious people who have suffered so much, Lord.

42. Keep the door open a little while longer so we can reap the fruits & harvest them, Lord, during this brief period of freedom. We know it can't last long, Lord, because You have to let things proceed to fulfil Thy Will for the End. So Lord, in Jesus' name, give us a little more time to reach them, if possible.

43. Bless those precious Christians in those Communist countries & those who have been recently freed. Help them, encourage them, feed them, Lord! They're in such terrible shape economically. Feed Thy sheep, Lord, in Jesus' name. We know You will & that You will take care of them, even if You have to take them.

(Editor's Note: The latest update on Lithuania as of May 1st is that Gorbachev did cut off all Lithuania's oil & 85% of its natural gas. They've also stopped deliveries of many other goods, raising the threat of a total economic blockade. During this time Soviet troops seized a printing plant & some government offices by force‚ but Soviet tactics so far have been mostly non–violent‚ sticking to Gorbachev's pledge.

(Lithuania has stubbornly stuck to its claim of independence, although its people are beginning to feel the pinch of the Soviet blockade. Now‚ however, it appears that both sides are on the verge of a compromise. Gorbachev has indicated that he doesn't expect Lithuania to revoke its independence, just "suspend" it for a while. Lithuania has sent a delegation to Moscow & seems to be willing to back down a bit too, so the Soviets have restored some of Lithuania's natural gas supply. Both sides seem to be moving towards a compromise, but the crisis isn't over yet by any means!—So pray!)