The Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania says that the well-known Lithuanian actor, People’s Artist of the USSR, Donatas Banionis, who passed away in 2014, as well as the Lithuanian violinist and conductor, People’s Artist of the USSR Saulius Sondeckis, who died in 2016, worked for the KGB during the Soviet period, reported by Delfi news agency, citing a statement by the center.
The statement claims that Banionis worked in the KGB under the alias “Bronos”, and provided information on Lithuanians living in the US. “In KGB documents there is evidence that agent Bronos was recruited in 1970 on account of personal and business contacts with Lithuanians abroad,” the center’s statement reads.
Citing KGB documents, the center mentions the example of Banionis’s trip in 1970 to the US at the invitation of the Santaros Šviesа Federation (a union of Lithuanian emigrants).
“Before the trip, the agent was informed about the activity of Lithuanians in the United States of America, and he was also given valuable information and assignments, which he completed. The agent made contact with several Lithuanian emigrants whom the KGB was interested in. He provided their characteristics. This may have facilitated the operative work (surveillance) when these people visited Lithuania,” the center claims.
According to the center, the KGB documents state that “agent Bronos’s trip to the United States was useful for ideological work”.
As for Sondeckis, he was supposedly recruited by the KGB in 1962. Under the alias “Saliutas” he allegedly worked for the KGB until 1982. Russian intelligence became interested in the conductor on account of his father, Jackus Sondeckis, who had immigrated to the US.
The center claims that the KGB got hold of the conductor in 1967, since it had received information that his father in the US wanted to make contact with him. The goal was to force the son to influence his father to renounce his anti-Soviet activity and return to Lithuania, where he could be used more actively. In 1986 a meeting of the father and son was reportedly arranged in Canada, where the conductor had traveled for a concert.
Donatas Banionis acted in more than 50 films. Among the best known of them are Solaris, Dead Season, Beware of the Car, Entering the Labyrinth, Suicide Club or Adventures of a Titled Person, and many others. The actor passed away on September 4, 2014, at the age of 90.
Saulius Sondeckis was the founder and irreplaceable conductor of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and the Saint Petersburg Camerata in Leningrad (now the St. Petersburg State Hermitage Orchestra). The conductor died on February 3, 2016, at the age of 88.
The Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania is a state institution that was created in 1997. The center investigates instances of genocide, crimes against humanity and military crimes in Lithuania and persecution of the inhabitants of Lithuania during the occupation period. Since 2011 the center has been assigned a new function – to check, analyze and publish documents from the intelligence service of the former Soviet Union.