Vytautas Landsbergis

Vytautas Landsbergis

Vytautus Landsbergis is a Lithuanian politician and was the first head of state of Lithuania after it declared independence from the Soviet Union. He was also a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2014. Landsbergis studied music and was a professor of music history at the Lithuanian Academy of Music before joining other artists and intellectuals to form the Sajudis movement for Lithuanian independence from the Soviet Union. As chairman of the movement, Landsbergis was elected to the USSR Congress of People’s Deputies and used his seat to lobby for Lithuanian independence. In the first free Lithuanian elections in February 1990, Landsbergis was elected to the legislature and became chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania. He led the parliamentary session during which Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union. He also served as chairman of the commission that drafted the new Lithuanian constitution.

In 1991, Landsbergis received the Award of Foundation du Future, the International Freedom Foundation's Freedom Award, and the Norwegian People's Peace Prize for his role in the restoration of Lithuanian independence. In 1992, he received the Herman Ehlers Prize. He is the founder of the Vytautas Landsbergis Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the care and education of handicapped children and young performing artists. Landsbergis is a member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Vytautus Landsbergis continues to be very active in Lithuanian politics and speaks widely on Lithuanian independence, government corruption, and the threat of Russia.