National Threats Assessment, 2018 (excerpts)

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Protection of Constitutional Order

Political and social movements promoting Russian influence

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Even though the organizations and movements supporting aggressive Russian foreign policy have slightly different ideas, their hostility towards the EU and NATO and the involvement in Russian information campaigns is their common feature. For instance, in 2017, movements supporting Russian policy sought to compromise Lithuanian foreign and defence policy, deployment of NATO eFP forces in Lithuania, tried to promote the Russian narrative about the alleged Lithuanian russophobia and the need to re-allocate the funds intended for defence to other domains.

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Russia’s compatriot policy in Lithuania

Russia’s compatriot policy in Lithuania is not particularly effective but it negatively affects the integration of the ethnic communities. Russia seeks to retain influence over ethnic communities in Lithuania and obstruct their integration into Lithuanian society. In order to achieve this aim, Russia carries out ideological projects intended for Russian-speaking youth, supports the organizations that defend the allegedly violated rights of Russian compatriots, conducts information campaigns disparaging Lithuania’s statehood. In 2017, Russia considerably increased support for the projects intended for spreading the official narrative of the Russian history in the Russian-speaking community, also sought to involve it into projects perpetuating Soviet heritage.

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Movements promoting political extremist ideology

Organizations and movements promoting extremist ideology in Lithuania became weaker as the society does not support their ideas. Their activities do not pose the threat to Lithuania’s constitutional order. Despite these trends, the Russian media tries to present the minor events organized by the Lithuanian extreme right-wing groups as the evidence of popularity of extremist ideology in Lithuania.

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Information security

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Russian information policy in Lithuania is conducted through the Russia-funded internet portals sputniknews.lt and baltnews.lt. Their goal is to extend Russia’s influence within Lithuania’s information space, promote anti-western sentiments, and shape public opinion favourable to Kremlin. In 2017, upon the orders of the Russian information policy-makers the above-mentioned media outlets started publishing more articles about the status of the Polish community in Lithuania and Vilnius region. They sought to incite ethnic confrontation and exacerbate relations between Lithuania and Poland. The publications tried to persuade the audience that Lithuania discriminates the local Polish community or to make an impression that Poland ‘does not waive’ its territorial claims to its neighbours.

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Russian history policy implementation in Lithuania

In the recent years, in order to implement its historical policy in Lithuania Russia paid particular attention and allocated funds to projects preserving historical memory and Soviet heritage. Russia is particularly interested in reconstruction of the objects of military heritage, such as soldier graves and memorials, which are presented as a proof of Lithuania’s inclusion in the Russian geopolitical space. In addition, such objects serve as places to rally supporters of Kremlin’s policies.

Reconstruction projects of the objects of the Soviet military heritage in the Baltic States are coordinated by the Russian diplomats, pro-Russian organizations and single Russian-minded individuals. A formal renovation is not the only goal of such projects. The prohibited Soviet symbols are made visible and the organisers seek to arrange an official ceremony with participation of local officials and media representatives.

In Lithuania, Russia makes attempts to involve pro-Russian individuals and organizations into projects of preservation of the military heritage. Such individuals conduct excavations of burial sites and without proper examination seek to rebury the discovered remains as Soviet soldiers. Subsequently, attempts are made to legitimize the burial and re-burial sites as new objects of the Soviet heritage.

Individuals implementing the above-mentioned projects try to evade the control of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department and seek to negotiate directly with municipalities. In case municipalities carry out or plan to conduct works in the objects of the Soviet military heritage that do not correspond with Russian interests and the official Russian narrative, the local officials are subjected to pressure from the Russian media and the staff of the Russian diplomatic missions, occasionally growing into open threats.


Document data: ISBN 978-609-412-139-5 Link: https://www.vsd.lt/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ENG.pdf

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