Born in 1932, Algirdas Brazauskas rose through the Lithuanian Communist Party (LKP) as a state economic official. He became first secretary of LKP on 19 October 1988. For the next 14 months, he managed to balance the interests of the Sajudis independence movement, of which he was never a full member, and Moscow. On 20 December 1989, Brazauskas led LKP to become the first to split from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (KPSS). Full independence of Lithuania was declared on 11 March 1990. Voted out of a governing role in the new parliament by Sajudis, he led a party of former communists to return to power in October 1992. In February 1993, Brazauskas was elected president. He retained a high level of popularity until he retired from politics in January 1998. Today he heads a foundation supporting young political leaders in Vilnius.

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