Viewing cable 07VILNIUS704
Title: SNIPISKES CEMETERY UPDATE: ONE STEP FORWARD...

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VILNIUS7042007-10-02 12:21:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
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DE RUEHVL #0704 2751221
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R 021221Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1653
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000704 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/30/2017 
TAGS: PREL SCUL LH
SUBJECT: SNIPISKES CEMETERY UPDATE: ONE STEP FORWARD... 
 
REF: VILNIUS 614 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) 
and (d). 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  On September 18, the Prime Minister and his 
cabinet agreed that construction on or near the former Jewish 
cemetery in the Snipiskes neighborhood of Vilnius should be 
stopped and further study done.  On September 27, however, 
the responsible agency -- the Cultural Heritage Department in 
the Ministry of Culture -- issued an order that stopped 
"ground work," but allowed construction above ground to 
continue.  The work stoppage order was ineffective since the 
foundation is complete as is most of the four-story apartment 
building's frame.  Construction continues and parts of the 
Government appear to have acted counter to the intent of the 
highest levels of the Government.  End Summary. 
 
Working Group's recommendations, PM's approval 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶2. (U) On August 27, Prime Minister Kirkilas reorganized his 
Working Group dealing with this issue.  The Group, led by new 
chair FM Petras Vaitiekunas, submitted recommendations to the 
PM, who met with his cabinet of Ministers and approved those 
recommendations on September 18.  The cabinet agreed: 
 
-- The Cultural Heritage Department within the Ministry of 
Culture has the authority to and should stop construction. 
-- The Government should apply to the Prosecutor's Office to 
investigate the legality of the land purchase of the 
construction area. 
-- The Lithuanian Geological Service in the Ministry of 
Environment will conduct a study, in cooperation with 
international experts and Lithuanian specialists within two 
months to help specify the boundaries of the cemetery. 
-- Additional archeological, archival, historical, and 
cartographic research should be done as needed. 
-- The Ministry of Justice should report to the Government on 
the possible legal consequences of halting construction. 
 
¶3. (C) President Valdas Adamkus spoke privately to Jewish 
groups in New York on September 26 and told them the 
construction had been stopped.  The Prime Minister told Rabbi 
Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs of the 
American Jewish Congress, on September 27 that construction 
would be halted later that day. 
 
¶4. (U) On September 27, however, the Cultural Heritage 
Department issued a work stoppage order that applies only to 
"ground work."  This had no effect, since the foundation and 
all ground work is complete.  Construction continues above 
ground on the four story building, the frame of which is 
virtually complete. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶5. (C) The Ministry of Culture's Cultural Heritage Department 
read between the lines of the Prime Minister's order and 
tried to comply formally without actually stopping 
construction.  The Ministry of Culture is headed by the 
Liberal and Center Union party, a partner in the PM's 
minority ruling coalition.  Former Mayor of Vilnius Arturas 
Zuokas is the head of the party, and is alleged to have ties 
to the building's developers and even a financial interest in 
the project.  The Ministry has been a source of delays and 
diversions since it became involved in this issue in December 
¶2006.  We continue to press the PM to move forward on this 
issue, (most recently in a meeting with the Ambassador on 
October 1) despite the difficulties of disciplining a 
coalition partner member. 
CLOUD