(pseudonym; real name, Jonas Tomovich Valunas). Born Jan. 1, 1899, in Varanauskas, present-day Alitusskii Raion, Lithuanian SSR; died 1943. Soviet party and government figure; Hero of the Soviet Union (1965, posthumously). Member of the CPSU from 1919.
Vitas was the son of a small landholding peasant. He participated in the Great October Socialist Revolution. In 1918 he was a member of the Red Army and fought on the Southern Front. In 1919 he fought for the establishment of Soviet power in Lithuania and in 1920 worked in the party under-ground there. In August 1921, Vitas arrived in the RSFSR. From 1922 to 1925 he studied at the Communist University of National Minorities of the West in Moscow. From 1925 to 1928 he did economic and party work in Tula. From 1928 to 1932 he studied at the Moscow State Electronic Machine-building Institute, then worked as an engineer in Dzerzhinsk and was director of the energy college in Leningrad. After the establishment of Soviet power in Lithuania (1940), Vitas was president of the Vilnius municipal executive committee.
At the start of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, Vitas was an organizer of the underground antifascist organization Union for the Liberation of Lithuania and in the spring of 1943 was named secretary of the underground Vilnius municipal committee of the CP of Lithuania. On July 19, 1943, he was captured by gestapo agents and soon killed in prison.
R. IA. SHARMAITIS