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2020.11.04 12:19

Lithuanians for Biden: Trump ‘worshipping Putin’ was the last straw

Lukas Kivita, LRT.lt, LRT RADIJAS2020.11.04 12:19

Lithuanian diaspora in the United States has been split along party lines. Several hundred of US Lithuanians favouring Joe Biden have founded a support organisation.

This is one of two publications about the Lithuanian diaspora in the US during the country's presidential election. Read the story about Lithuanians for Republicans here.

Lithuanian Americans and Friends for Biden aim to "end the uncertainty, chaos and deception that is the Trump administration”, according to the group’s description on their website.

Juozas Kazlas, a Lithuanian who was born in Sweden and grew up in the US, is one of the several hundred members of the group.

“My parents fled Lithuania during the Stalinist era,” he said. “The Republicans often seemed like stronger anti-communists than left-wing democrats.”

In the run-up to America’s November 3 presidential election, Kazlas told LRT RADIO he was a loyal Republican voter for decades.

“For our family and many other American Lithuanians, supporting the Republicans was almost part of our political identity,” he added. “When I was young, I supported Goldwater, then I voted Noxon, Reagan, and Bush – both the father and the son.”

Read more: US election divides Lithuanian diaspora: 'intolerance visible on both sides'

But after the end of the Cold War, Kazlauskas became disillusioned with the Republicans for their alleged failure to stop the accumulation of wealth in the hands of large corporations. The first time he voted Democrat was in 2008 when Barack Obama won the presidency.

“Conservative movements also often played [along] the extremists who, for example, deny climate change. Trump’s [presidency], especially his worshipping of Putin, showed that it wasn’t me who left the Republican Party, it was them who left me,” said Kazlas.

According to Kazlas, Trump’s foreign policy has sewn doubts among American allies. As a key example, he named Trump's withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria in autumn last year, which the Kurds said amounted to a betrayal.

“Allies will be very cautious with America if [Trump] stays president, because they will question whether they can truly trust [the US],” he added.

However, despite the partisan “cracks” within the Lithuanian diaspora, the community hasn’t been divided, said Kazlas.

Still, when the Lithuanians for Biden printed an ad in the biggest Lithuanian newspaper in the US, Draugas, “the chief editor received several letters complaining about Biden’s propaganda”, according to Kazlas.

Read more: Lithuanians favour Biden over Trump in US election – survey