Balto-Slavic Catfight: Linkevičius vs Udaltsov – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today I bring you a juicy diplomatic catfight between the representatives of two neighboring nations:  Lithuania vs Russia.

Linkevičius: I break you.

Udaltsov: I break you back.

In this corner:  The husky Balt, Linas Antanas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the great nation of Lithuania.  Aside from his political CV, which shows him rising steadily within the ranks of Lithuanian/EU/NATO type institutions, Link’s biography is fairly thin, which indicates either that (1) his life is boring, or that (2) he is highly discrete.  We know that he was born in 1961, which makes him 56 years old.  Physically, he sort of let himself go, although he was lucky enough to keep his hair.  The other thing we know about him is that he is a member of the so-called European Leadership Network, which looks to be a rogues gallery of Deep State, Euro-style.  Thus nicely fitting in with Awful Avalanches’s arcing early-summer theme of geo-political conspiracies and unaccountable actors!

Aside from that, Link is a virulent Russia-hater, to the extent that he would readily use NATO as his personal army and air force against Russia.  If he could.

In the other corner:  Russian Ambassador to Lithuania, Alexander Ivanovich Udaltsov.  I can’t find an English-language bio of him, but here is his Russian wiki.  Sasha was born in 1951, making him 10 years older than Link and actually at retirement age.  Still, he looks to be in better shape, with an angry slab for a face, a shock of white hair, and pugnacious mien.  This is a guy who has seen a lot in his time, and fought a lot of battles.

Udaltsov graduated from Moscow State University in 1973, with a degree in History.  He proceeded straight to diplomatic work while also acquiring his post-graduate degree at the Diplomatic Academy in 1985.  He has worked in various diplomatic posts in both Soviet and post-Soviet times, including ambassadorships to nations such as Slovakia and Latvia; and now also Ambassador to Lithuania.  He is married, with a son and a daughter.

Udaltsov is the scion of a diplomatic family, his father Ivan Ivanovich Udaltsov was the Soviet ambassador to Greece, back in the day.  Ivan also served in the Soviet army during World War II (1940-45), which makes Alexander Ivanovich eligible to march in the “Immortal Regiment” every year; even though his dad survived the war (obviously) and went on to work in the Soviet Foreign Service.  The dad, by the way, lived to a ripe (for that generation) old age, dying in 1995 in Moscow, at the age of 77.

Lithuanian heroine Eglė the Queen of Serpents

Meanwhile, we don’t know anything about Link’s papa , or which side he fought on during the war; one can presume, the Soviet side, but one never knows.  Here is Link’s Lithuanian bio, which is almost as thin as his English one, only adding the one personal detail that he is married (wife Danguolė) and has two daughters, named Aušra (“Dawn”) and Eglė
(“Spruce”).  Both apparently being common names for Lithuanian girls.  The name Eglė in particular having mythological connotations, as the heroine of a Lithuanian folk tale.  Here is the basic gist of the story, which I “borrowed” from wiki:

A young girl named Eglė has 2 sisters and 12 brothers.  One day she discovers a serpent in her clothes after bathing with her sisters. Speaking in a human voice, the serpent agrees to go away only after Eglė pledges herself to him in exchange for his leaving the clothes, not realising the possible consequences. Three days pass, and thousands of serpents come for the bride, but are tricked by her relatives each time. A goose, a sheep and a cow are given instead but the cuckoo warns about the deceit. Enraged serpents return for a final time and take Eglė with them to the bottom of the sea to their master.

Instead of seeing a serpent, Eglė meets her bridegroom Žilvinas, a handsome human – the Serpent Prince. They live together happily and bear four children (3 sons and a daughter), until Eglė decides to visit home and her husband denies her permission. In order to be allowed to visit home, Eglė is required to fulfil three impossible tasks: to spin a never-ending tuft of silk, wear down a pair of iron shoes and to bake a pie with no utensils. After she gets advice from the sorceress and succeeds, Žilvinas reluctantly lets Eglė and the children go.

After meeting the long lost family members, Eglė’s relatives do not wish to let them back to the sea and decide to kill Žilvinas. The three boys are threatened and beaten by their uncles, in order to try to disclose how to summon their father; however, they remain silent and do not betray him. Finally, the frightened girl-child discloses the method.

The twelve brothers summon Žilvinas the Serpent from the sea and kill him using scythes.

The worried Eglė calls her husband, but unfortunately only foams of blood return from the sea. When Eglė discovers that her beloved is dead, as a punishment for betrayal she turns her children and herself into trees – the sons into strong trees, an oak, an ash and a birch [’cause, see they stood up to torture], whereas the daughter was turned into a quaking aspen [’cause, see, she snitched on her dad]. Finally, Eglė transformed herself into a spruce.

With that backstory out of the way, and now that we know the contestants, it is time to return to our catfight.  The gist being that Link says Russia owes his country money; and Udaltsov saying, no, it’s the other way around!

[to be continued]

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2 Responses to Balto-Slavic Catfight: Linkevičius vs Udaltsov – Part I

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    A bunch of serpents (long, long serpents) are going after a girl, who they, ultimately “take away”?


    Dr. Freud intensifies!

    Btw – pagan Lithuanians had very unhealthy obsession with snakes, considered them “sacred” animals, and even had a caste of maiden-priestess who’s job was to take care of one particular snake-dedicated sacred grove (alka in Lithuanian) and to keep burning the sacred flame – in Kaunas, IIRC. In fact, pagan Lithuanians lacked proper “temples”, holding their rituals at particular groves, fields and springs dedicated to gods and spirits. They also lacked proper “priests”, with the few exceptions – every Reasonable Authority Figure (i.e. a chieftain, a noble or the village elders) were supposed to lead the community in conducting of the “service”.

    With the elite converting to the Christianity there simply remained no one to conduct the rituals. No wonder – according to their creating myth, Dievas (or Deywis) created humanity accidentally from his spit and doesn’t really cares about us. Kinda a buzzkill for a deity. OTOH, their pantheon can’t be all bad, given that they had Rugužis – god of pickles.

    Lithuanians and other of their Baltic tributary tribes were one of the last (if not the last people) in Europe to Christianize. It was actually an excellent pretext for the Teutonic/Livonian Order to explain all looting and pillaging (reisen) that they did to the “heathens”. More so – it allowed them to kickstart in 1339 an innovative trend-setting tourist enterprise – “Go on Crusade: Budget Version” (aka Euro-tour – Medieval Edition). Made a vow to go on a crusade against the heathens? Don’t want to go into a big trouble of actually sailing to the Holy Land? Then come to Livonian Ordenstaat and be their gäste! For just a small, humble donation to the small, humble, pious and poor brother-knights, you’d have an opportunity to go out and slaughter yourself a heathen! It’s like a real experiences, but closer to civilization, less dangerous and Pope Approved!

    Listen to our famous clients:

    “These guys can into anschluss! Removing pagans from premises? Wunderbar! Why, I myself got knighted just for massacring of one village!” – Duke Albrech III of Austria

    “Oh, yes! What a splendid time! All brothers were fine chaps, really. I’m surely will like to use their “Crusade Substitute” special offer again. Well, after I deal with the Welsh. And the Scots. And the rebellious barons. And the French. Well, one of these days after that” – Henry Bollingbrok, now Henry IV of England.


    • yalensis says:

      The pagan Liths sound like actually very cool people!

      I really liked that snake-princess story, but I didn’t know that snake-priestesses were actually a thing, back in the day. I wonder if there was a halfway rational back-story, maybe the proto-Balts were constantly plagued by snake attacks and felt they had to do something about it.
      Come to think of it, Slavic folklore also has a lot of snake stories, like “Змей Горыныч”.
      But Eglė’s snake seems like a smaller one, not so much a dragon like Gorynych, but a snake small enough to fit inside her knickers.


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