The Man Who Is Playing for Time

Few Lithuanians boast a finer nationalist pedigree than Vytautas Landsbergis. Descended from a long line of intellectuals, the new President is only the latest Landsbergis to agitate for an independent homeland. His maternal grandfather produced the first grammar of modern Lithuanian, while his paternal grandfather was exiled to Russia for his opposition to czarist rule. Landsbergis' father Vytautas, one of Lithuania's leading architects, was a volunteer in the fight for independence in 1918 and, with his elder son Gabrielius, took part in an attempt to create an independent Lithuania during World War II.

Now the younger Vytautas, 57, is spearheading the...