• yozhbt

My New "Baltic" E-Book Is Out Now!

It is a very happy moment for me! And also a very sad one, as after 13.5 years of operation, I decided to shut down this LJ.

However, I am parting while bringing good news to all of you: My new book with stories from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is now available in all major e-shops — and only there! Indeed, it would be weird to have a printed version of "e-Balts" («э-балты» in Russian). 

The most convenient way to buy this is via Rideró, an awsome publishing online service, where the book was composed. Another opportunity is Amazon (if you will).

My thanks go to the International Writers' and Translators' House in Ventspils (Latvia) for an invitation to participate in the programme of residencies in 2018 and an opportunity to work with original sources in city libraries; Elena Rusakova for editing and a non-trivial approach; Milda Bagdonaitė, Sabīne Jermaloviča and Sille Sepp for corrections of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian expressions; Liisa Krussmägi for the illustration, which simultaneously reminds of Eglė (the Queen of Serpents) and an unusual museum in Pärnu; and — last but not least — to my wife Anna Batog, my first listener, editor and critic.


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  • Current Music
    Johann Sebastian Bach. Prelude and Fugue in C minor
  • yozhbt

Pūre vs. Laima

I must confess something: I do not like "Laima" chocolates. The Latvian sweets I am really fascinated about are "Pūre" — deriving from the name of a small town in the Tukums Region counting only some hundreds of residents.

Since 2007, "Pūre" has been producing the best truffles in the Baltics. Probably, as "Pergalė" from Lithuania would certainly argue that. "Pūre"'s speciality is that they blend truffles with different flavours — from berries of all kinds to nuts and from tiramisu to cheesecake.

Thanks to their unique ingredients and a distinguishing taste, the "Pūre" truffles have become a real Latvian story of success. Now they may be found everywhere throughout the country. But even if you had a busy day and could hardly come by a shop, you still can purchase "Pūre" products on your way back at the Rīga Airport.

Labu apetīti! (or: Enjoy your meal!)

  • Current Music
    แว่นใหญ่ - หัวหิน
  • yozhbt

The Most Famous Latvian Think Tank

In May 1992, the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) was founded in Rīga. Its goal was to provide representatives of a new independent state, including Latvia's decision-makers, experts and the wider public, with analysis, recommendations and information about international developments, regional security issues, as well as foreign policy strategy and choices.

As the time passed showed, this goal has been steadily and successfully achieved: In these years, the institute has become the most famous Latvian think tank, which also enjoys a prominent status on the international arena. Its priorities range from European Union policies and transatlantic relations to energy issues and bi- and multilateral relations with Russia. 

In 2017, the large-scale New Silk Road Programme was launched in cooperation with the companies "Latvian Railways" and "Latvian Railways Logistics". The researchers have been analysing various aspects of the ambitious Chinese initiative, as well as Latvia-China and EU-China relations.

Currently, LIIA is headed by Andris Sprūds, who has been also holding the position of a professor at the Rīga Stradiņš University. Under his leadership, the institute has yet more challenging tasks to pursue in and for the future.

  • Current Music
    Andris Daņiļenko. Baltie Ziemassvētki
  • yozhbt

Autumnal Poetry

Time for a poetry break again :-) Today I have chosen autumn as a topic and two wonderful poets, who knew to brilliantly describe this chilling season — Salomėja Nėris (1904-1945) from Lithuania and Kārlis Skalbe (1879-1945) from Latvia:


Jau druvas paliek kailas,
Un kuļmašīna dīc.
Drīz smagais zelta rudens
Būs klētī noguldīts.
No laukiem ores aizved
Pēdējās gubas un status,
Un saule no griežiem aizvelk
Savus garos zelta matus.
Kad pirmās salnas mostas,
Tad dārzos kāpostus cērt,
Brangs puisis Miķelis atnāk
Jau ziemai vārtus vērt,
Tam vēja appūsti vaigi
Un mugurā kamzolis silts,
Pie kājām tam sarmas tilts.
Ar sniega lāčiem baltiem
Tur atbrauks māmiņa - ziema
Karītē tumšā un vecā
Ledus riteņiem kaltiem.


Rausta šiluogužė. Debesėlis plaukia,
Būrį gervių lydi į saulutės šalį.
Tarp dviejų pušelių – beržas geltonplaukis:
Mes tave mylėsim – baltąjį brolelį.

Vėtrai įsakysim, kad tave aplenktų,
Kad nenudraskytų geltonų lapelių.
Vėtra tegu drasko jovarą prie plento,
Vėtra tegu dulkes vieškelyje kelia.

  • Current Music
    Pērkons. Cik pulkstens?
  • yozhbt

How To Make a Deal in Lithuania and in Latvia

At the beginning of 2019, I started my own YouTube channel on international networking under the title "i-networker". There I am talking about how to lead negotiations and make a deal across cultures.

Finally, I shot two videos on the business culture in Lithuania and Latvia. The former video turned out to be one of the most popular entries on the channel (with comments too related to politics, though, which is not necessarily relevant in that case). Anyway, I share the videos here (both are in Russian) and would very much appreciate your comments.


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  • Current Music
    მანანა მენაბდე. სტვენს ბულბული
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Analyse, Evaluate and Reflect before You Create or Act

On 17 October, the media literacy training course “Read between the Lines” ended in Vilnius, Lithuania. An intensive six-day seminar gathered 26 participants – teachers, trainers, youth workers, etc. – from Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. An official slogan of the seminar proposed by them refers to the steps of acquiring media and information literacy skills and reads as “Analyse, Evaluate and Reflect before You Create or Act”.

During the course, the participants reflected on media literacy situations in their countries, assessed their own level in the topic by filling in a questionnaire prepared by the facilitators, got familiar with psychological aspects of the media literacy. One full day was devoted to critical thinking, including a theoretical input and a role play. Further units were dealing with hidden messages behind words and images, borders between journalism and activism and manipulations. 

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  • Current Music
    Queen. We Will Rock You
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Two Unexpected Meetings in Kaliningrad

Last week I happened to be in Kaliningrad, the Western-most region of Russia, where I managed to go to the opening of a photo exhibition by Oleg Maksimov, who has been celebrating his 90th anniversary this year, at the Vorota Art Space.

An unexpected added value of the event was not only the birthday child, who was present himself — and in very good spirits, but also a visit of Dali Rust (Dalia Cibauskaitė), a Lithuanian director, with her documentary "The Keeper of Time" (Laiko Saugotojas), which shows Kaliningrad with Oleg Maksimov's eyes, insights and reflections.

Dalia is not in Kaliningrad anymore. However, you can still manage to visit this amazing exhibition: It is running until 9 October 2019.

  • Current Music
    Anthem of the Kaliningrad Region
  • yozhbt

Not ORLEN Alone

A couple of years ago, I was featuring ORLEN Lietuva, a Lithuanian asset of the Polish energy concern, in one of my posts. However, this is not the only big Polish player on the local market, and, even if ORLEN's history dates back to the second half of the 19th century, the champion of today has even a longer record. No surprise, as the insurance business — in this or that form — has probably been out there since the very birth of the mankind. 

The tradition of the PZU Group emerged in 1803, when the first insurance companionship on the Polish ground was founded. Nowadays, PZU is the largest insurance provider in the Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2001, a PZU branch has existed in Lithuania. More than 99% of its shares are in the hands of the Polish group.

In Lithuania, PZU has been focused on life insurance, including family packages, solutions for businesses and investment opportunities in the field. The company is also famous for its corporate social responsibility programmes, specifically in the realm of education.

To learn more, please explore the official website of JSC "PZU Lietuva gyvybės draudimas" (PZU Lithuania Life Insurance).

  • Current Music
    Hej, sokoły!
  • yozhbt

My First Ever Social Network

I joined this social network well before connecting to Facebook, Twitter or VK, even before Odnoklassniki and Goldenline, the Polish LinkedIn, let alone that I did not realise what I was joining. A friend of mine from Latvia invited me to connect via Draugiem (translated as "For Friends" from Latvian) — and I accepted the call. Hence, VKontakte and Facebook became the Russian and the global Draugiem for me — and not vice-versa.

Originated in the start of a social network back in 2004, the Draugiem Group with offices in Latvia (Cēsis and Rīga), Mexico, Spain and the US includes plenty of various services and applications now — ranging from merchandising to printed products, from smart parking to worktime tracking systems, from home solutions to group buying portals and much more.

Unfortunately, when I joined Facebook and VK, I abandoned my Draugiem account, which I never used properly, as I see from today's perspective. But it does not blur the popularity and profitablity of the service in Latvia and the global Latvian village.

  • Current Music
    Bumerangs. Dziesma draugiem
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Is the Commemoration of Deported Lithuanians and Poles a Crime in Russia?

This place deep in the forest, a swamp area, where the abandoned village of Galiashor near Kudymkar (Permian Komi District, Perm Region, Russia) is located, seems to be a pain in the neck for the local authorities. 

First, they wanted to pull down the monument to the victims of Soviet repressions, who were deported there from Lithuania and Poland. And in August 2019, Valeri Klimov, Head of the Territory of Kudymkar, not only refused to support the commemorative expedition but even disturbed its operation. The expedition participants including five Lithuanians, four Russians and one Italian, who were just beautifying area around the memorial, received a visit by the police, the forest ranger station and the migration service. 

According to the data by Perm Memorial, the organiser of the expedition, the participants were accused of defacing this remote area and flouting Russian migration laws. As a result, two criminal cases were opened, one against the organisers charged with illegal logging and another one against a local 70-year old resident, who agreed to register the Lithuanians for the entire stay in the area in his house (and they lived there indeed!).

In this case, only a wide information campaign can help to save all those involved from the prison. Re-posts and shares are very much appreciated.  

  • Current Music
    Various Artists. Atmostas Baltija/ Bunda jau Baltija/ Ärgake Baltimaad