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Rocking For Radio Free Lithuania

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Lithuanian rock star, Andrius Momontovas will be performing in the Ann Arbor area as part of his U.S. tour to raise funds for the re-establishment of his country's one and only independent radio station. The original station, M1 in Vilnius- Lithuania's capítol - was confiscated last January by Soviet Black Berets who fired into a crowd of 6,000 Lithuanians, killing 14 people. The radio station and the printing plant were vital to Lithuania's progress toward independence as they were the only non-Soviet producers of news and information in the country.

M1 was developed by the solidarity community and promoted many Lithuanian meetings and pretests and thus became a prime target for Soviet takeover. Before the takeover, the station announced current events and played diverse types of music. Now, Lithuanian citizens are left with the Soviet controlled Lithuanian Republic radio station which announces solely Soviet government generated news and plays only classical music.

Momontovas and U.S. representative to the Lithuanian International Organizational Committee, Jonas Berzanskis, are working to raise $15-$20,000 for radio station equipment to re-establish the independent station. Careful steps are being taken to insulate the new station from a second seizure. Momontovas states that the primary reason M1 was vulnerable to Soviet forces was due to its location in a building controlled by the Communist Party. When he relocates t, says Momontovas, it shall be secure from repeat attack.

On April 9 1990, Momontovas, then an M1 disc jockey, learned that the Soviet army was en route to the media center. The troops' intention was to put the Lithuanian Republic's news and communications center out of commission by physically seizing the radio and printing equipment and the building. In a matter of hours Momontovas contacted colleagues across the nation and organized a concert which began at midnight and lasted until 7 am. A crowd of 10,000 surrounded the media center thereby turning Soviet troops away in defeat.

This event clearly stunned the Soviets. The power of the people and of music as a vehicle for cross-country communication clearly shook the foundations of Soviet control.

Lithuanian progress toward independence through artistic freedom has been growing since Perestroika. The solidarity of the Lithuanian community, through the artistic expression of music, flew like a victory flag with bands like Kernagas, Vaivorykste (Cornet), Rondo, Antis (Duck- A LithuanianTalking Heads), and Momontovas' band, Foje, playing the troops away.

Foje has had a vital role politically and artistically in the lives of many üthuanians, as proven by hit albums like "Vaikyst Szotgas" (The Roof of Childhood), "Zodzaí I Tylas" (Words Into The Silence), and most recently, "It Might Sound Strange" - which carries the #3 hit single in Lithuania, "Baltame Name" (In A White Room).

Momontovas will be performing with drummer Julián Vanskyke and Lithuanian ska band, Bix, in New Buffalo, Michigan over the July 4th weekend. The multi-talented keyboard, bass, acoustic and voice artist will also perform at Lilli's in Hamtramck for a second time this summer before doing a full-fledged tour through the Midwest and Eastern U.S. with Foje as well as the band, UTV. For more Information about Montontovas a p pea ranees in the area, ca Jonas Berzanskis at 434-2281.