The beleaguered Vilnius Mayor Artūras Zuokas has a unique resume, and one that he is proud of. “I never plan my future, I spent six years as a journalist, six years as a businessman and now I have been in politics for six years. I don’t set goals for my future because I believe if you do that, then you automatically rule out many possibilities.”
Artūras is a self-made man from the small town of Jonava. He finished high school and worked briefly at Achema before serving his time in the Russian Army in Murmansk. He completed journalism at Vilnius University and became a war correspondent. Zuokas went to Georgia and later to Abchazia, Iraq, Iran and Moldovia. He was one of the last journalists in Baghdad after the start of the first gulf war and provided much of the footage that was broadcast over many of the news networks including CNN at the time. During his career he was arrested in Kaliningrad and Azerbaijan and often worked in areas that were patrolled by snipers, and was a colleague of Peter Martin from Skynews when he was killed on the job. So he is not an easy man to scare.
“I see it all as a game, I see a problem and then work out how to solve it. The harder it is the more interested I am.”
Artūras is married with three children and his family are big supporters of his, and know everything that is happening in his working life.“
Our first question was how the events and allegations from the last year have affected him?
It has been a very difficult and strange year. It is almost impossible to say at the moment how it will all turn out, but I would like to leave this year behind me and then look back at it some time later. Somehow I have become one of the most unpopular politicians, which ironically has made me popular in another way.
My situation at the moment is based on the wrong interpretation of facts. It is not true as it is presented now to the citizens of Vilnius and Lithuania. It is not the best situation for me, but I can assure everybody that I didn’t do anything to harm the interests of the citizens or the city that I represent. It is like I was walking along and saw two people fighting. Most people would keep walking and do nothing, but I went in to try and stop it. From a moral point of view I know I am right and I would do the same again next time.