Liaudininkas

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Liaudininkas

 

(from the Lithuanian liaudininkas, literally “populist”; full name, League of Peasant Populists of Lithuania), a liberal party of the Lithuanian middle class and petite bourgeoisie.

The Liaudininkas Party was founded in 1922 by merging the socialist popular democrats of Lithuania (formed in Voronezh in November 1917 from the Democratic Party of Lithuania, whose members took refuge in Russia after the occupation of Lithuania by German troops at the beginning of World War I; the leader of the party was M. Slezevicius) and the League of Lithuanian Peasants (a kulak organization, established in 1905). Defending the interests of part of the urban bourgeoisie and the kulaks and struggling against the revolutionary movement, the Liaudininkas leaders several times headed the Cabinet of Ministers (M. Sleževčius and K. Grinius; in 1926, Grinius was president). As the heads of the Lithuanian government, the Liaudininkas leaders did not resist the fascist coup of A. Smetona on Dec. 17, 1926.

The policies of the Liaudininkas leadership provoked dissatisfaction among the rank and file of the party, who had ties to the masses of the peasantry and the working intelligentsia. During the peasant strike of 1935 (in southwestern Lithuania), some of the Liaudininkas rank and file worked closely with the Communists, creating committees of the antifascist Popular Front.

In early 1936 the Liaudininkas Party, its youth organization (the League of Lithuanian Youth), and other nonfascist parties and organizations were disbanded by the government. Progressive members of the Liaudininkas Party, and particularly representatives of its youth organization, maintained contacts with the Communist Party, which was operating underground. They took part in the antifascist movement, hailed the proclamation of Soviet power in Lithuania in 1940, and participated in the building of socialism. In 1939-40 the reactionary leaders of the Liaudininkas Party joined the fascist government; from 1941 to 1944 they collaborated with the fascist German occupation forces. After the liberation of Lithuania by the Soviet Army they joined underground bourgeois nationalist organizations or fled together with the fascist German troops and later became anti-Soviet emigres (in the USA and Canada).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.