Juozas wrote:

face="Lucida Sans Unicode">This is of course correct but in everyday "city" language the
> contrast is actually lost: vЂ  ГЅrЂ  Еі
and vЂ  ГЅru are exact
> homophones. Mr  Ambrazas and other
Lithuanian philologists articulate very clearly
> and urge everyone to do
this, however, the real life corrects
> phonetics in its own way. Yet if
the loss of contrast leads to any
> kind of dangerous ambiguity, both
syllables are stressed in
> vЂ  ГЅrЂ  Еі, thus making
it possible to pronounce the last vowel as a long  one.

> >From the practical point of view, the long "e" in "Petras" is quite
different from "Ђ  С'Ї" in Ђ  РїС'ЇС'ўС'¬ because a kind of "j" sound
> (the "y" in "yacht") can be barely heard in the beginning of
> "Ђ  С'Ї".
> This may be hardly spottable in Russian
itself but when a Russian
> says "Petras" he instinctively substitutes
"Ђ  С'Ї" for "e" and
> "Pyatras" comes out (analogously, a
Lithuanian instinctively
> pronounces Ђ  РїС'ЇС'ўС'¬ as
Someting has happened to both Lithuanian and Cyrillic characters, but to the extent the text can be reconstructed I can note that:
1. All the works on Lithuanian experimental phonetics I have had a chance to look through state that some kind of phonetical opposition do exist, whether realized by a native speaker itself or not.
2. As for the [j]
onglide in Russian, that's exactly what I meant and it's undoubtedly present (and the reason here is of course not historical nor even phonological: it's purely phonetic), but Urban's question had an important reservation: the NUCLEUS was mentioned. Clear the Russian sound from glides, consider the positions I mentioned and listen! :)