Birthday: September 22, 1932
Died At Age: 77
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas
Born in: Rokiškis
Famous as: Yachting and Hunting
political ideology: Political party Communist Party of Lithuania (1957–1990), Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1959-1989), Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (1990–2001), Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (2001–2010)
Spouse/Ex-: Julija Brazauskienė, Kristina Brazauskienė
father: Kazimieras Brazauskas
mother: Sofija Perezilevičiūtė-Brazauskienė
Died on: June 26, 2010
place of death: Vilnius
education: 1956 - Kaunas University of Technology, 1974 -
Who was Algirdas Brazauskas?
Algirdas Brazauskas was the first President of the post-Soviet Lithuania. As the leader of the newly independent Lithuania which had freshly broken off from the Soviet Union, he assumed office in February 1993. Even though Lithuania had first declared independence from Germany at the end of the World War I, the country was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Lithuania again gained her independence in 1990 after decades of political turmoil, and Brazauskas came to power at a very crucial period in the country’s history. A major figure in Lithuanian politics at the time he became the president, he had been highly influential in his motherland’s struggle for independence. He had been the last leader of Lithuanian Communists and in this role he helped pave the way for Lithuanian independence from the Soviet Union. His party denounced dictatorship and was in favor of free markets. He was also the one who led the governing party to severe its ties with the Soviet party in an act that ultimately led to Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union. Once he became the president, the enormous task of unifying his people and stabilizing the economy lay before him. He encouraged privatization and foreign investment, and also implemented several progressive reforms in the society. He was a popular president though he decided not to seek re-election at the end of his term
Childhood & Early Years
Algirdas Brazauskas was born on 22 September 1932 in Rokiškis, Lithuania. Both his parents were professionals with a strong interest in politics. His father had worked at a number of jobs—working as an accountant, schoolmaster, and civil servant at different points of time—while his mother was a barrister and a judge.
He went to Kaišiadorys High School from where he graduated in 1952. Then he decided to study engineering and enrolled at the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute, graduating with a degree in civil engineering in 1956.
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Algirdas Brazauskas was an intelligent young man and found success early on in his career. He entered the world of politics in the mid-1960s when he was appointed the minister of construction materials industry of Lithuanian SSR in 1965. He served in this position for the next two years.
In 1967, he became the deputy chairman of the State Planning Committee. Meanwhile he decided to pursue his education further and completed his PhD in Economics in 1974 from the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute.
The Lithuanian Communist Party’s interest in him intensified after he completed his doctorate. His political career prospered as he rose through the ranks of the Lithuanian Communist Party and was appointed as the secretary for economic affairs on its Central Committee in 1977, a rank he would hold for the next 10 years.
During this time, Lithuania was under the control of the Soviet Union which had annexed the country in 1940. Nationalism was slowly spreading in the country and the pro-independence party, Sajudis, was gathering support. The party saw Algirdas Brazauskas as a potential ally as he often advocated for greater freedom from Moscow.
The Sajudis lobbied for him and in 1988, he was appointed the first secretary of the Communist Party of Lithuania. Under his leadership the party broke away from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and transformed itself into social-democratic ‘Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania’.
His party denounced all forms of dictatorship and sought more autonomy from the Soviet Union. He endorsed free markets and encouraged privatization of industries.
By the end of 1989, the Lithuanian independence movement was gaining in momentum and he was looking for a way of breaking free from Soviet control. In March 1990 Lithuania declared independence from Moscow.
This move was met with much resistance by the Soviets who imposed an economic blockade on Lithuania. However by mid-1991 the Soviet Union weakened and finally recognized Lithuanian independence in September.
After the 1992 parliamentary elections in which the Sajudis were voted out of power, Algirdas Brazauskas became Speaker of the parliament and the acting President of Lithuania. He then went on to win the presidential election, garnering 60% of the vote, and assumed office as the President of Lithuania on 25 February 1993. His term ended on 25 February 1998.
After a short break he returned to politics and served as the Prime Minister of Lithuania from 2001 to 2006 after which he retired from active politics.
Awards & Achievements
The Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Chain and the Grand Cross Order of Vytautas the Great were among the various honors he received.
The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded Algirdas Brazauskas the Order of Honour for his significant contribution to cooperation between Russia and Lithuania and good neighborly relations.
Personal Life & Legacy
His first marriage was to Julija Brazauskienė. This union produced two daughters. The couple eventually went their separate ways and divorced.
In 2002, he married Kristina Brazauskienė.
His health declined during the late 2000s and he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in December 2008. Algirdas Brazauskas struggled with his illness for several months before succumbing to the disease on 26 June, 2010.