Protection of constitutional order
Russia manipulates democracy in order to influence social and political processes
The Russian ruling elite, under the veil of attention to its diaspora – an objective intrinsic to democratic countries – implements subversive compatriot policy aimed at fomenting ethnic discord in the Lithuanian society. During his address at a plenary session of the 6th World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad, held in Moscow in October 2018, Putin criticized allegedly growing Russo-phobia in the Baltic States, extreme nationalism and violations of Russian speakers’ rights. To protect the latter, Russia sponsored two centres operating in Lithuania. Representatives of these centres participated in international forums for protection of human rights, disseminated disinformation and accused Lithuania of allegedly violating Russian speakers’ rights.
To discredit Lithuania, the Kremlin uses events that are not linked with purported violations of Russian speakers’ rights. In 2018, following a several year-long break individuals related to informal extreme right groups engaged in violent incidents in Lithuania. These single crimes were not Russo-phobic and did not indicate a rise of political extremism. Same individuals, well known to law enforcement, usually engage in incidents that attract public attention and serve Russia in its unfounded accusations.
Russia manipulates the freedom of speech to spread propaganda disparaging Lithuanian statehood. The Kremlin abuses this fundamental democratic principle and portrays its propaganda as journalism, which represents an alternative opinion and allegedly builds on criteria of objectivity and need to convey information to society. Therefore, in response to any attempts of Lithuanian institutions to limit propaganda Russia accuses Lithuania of censorship and restriction of freedom of expression. In 2018, the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, due to continuous incitement of ethnic discord and war propaganda, repeatedly suspended rebroadcasting of the Russian TV channel ‘RTR Planeta’ for one year. The Kremlin escalated the case as an aggressive attempt to restrict the freedom of expression. However, the European Commission examined the case and decided that the suspension of rebroadcasting of ‘RTR Planeta’ was compatible with EU law.
Unable to presuade, the Kremlin seeks to raise doubts about inconvenient truth
In 2018, the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova actively participated in propaganda campaigns against Lithuania. In her statements, she sought to discredit members of the Lithuanian resistance against the Soviet occupation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also disseminated false information about deteriorating situation of Russian-speakers in his statements.
The Kremlin creates the adversarial image of Lithuania by spreading disinformation about persecuted Russian speakers and resurgent Nazism.
Russian history policy aimed to justify aggressive actions abroad
The Kremlin’s propaganda portrays Soviet invaders as liberators from Nazi Germany
[T]he Soviet victory and the perpetuation of Soviet heritage are among priorities of Russian history policy in Lithuania. In pursuance of these aims, Russia implements and actively promotes projects of history policy, particularly seeking to attract the youth. Leaders of the Soviet veteran and Russian compatriot organizations in Lithuania implement this activity under coordination of Russian diplomats. Every year on 9 May, they organize marches of the Immortal Regiment in Vilnius and Klaipeda, where its participants carry pictures of their relatives who took part in the WWII.
Russia exploits the preservation of the Soviet heritage in propagating
the image of Soviets as liberators. Russia sponsors various works in
this domain – mainly search and reburial of the remains of Soviet soldiers, maintenance and restoration of their graves, monuments and
memorial sites. Lithuanian legislation prevents the emergence of false,
scientifically unfounded and propagandistic notes and symbols at the
burial sites of Soviet soldiers. In response, in 2018 Russia organized
propaganda campaigns and denied access to Russia to participants of
Lithuania’s annual expedition Mission Siberia who travel to Russia to
take care of deportees’ graves.
The narrative spread by Russian propagandists disparages Lithuanian
statehood, whereas their accusations of history falsification and support to Nazism effectively shape the adversarial image of Lithuania
in the Russian society. Thus Russia’s history policy lays basis for the
Kremlin’s destructive actions against Lithuania and poses threat to
Lithuania’s national security.
One of the main targets of the Russian history policy is the Lithuanian armed resistance movement, as it denies clichés of the Kremlin’s narrative about the positive Soviet influence to Lithuania’s development. Russian officials and subordinate propagandists seek to shape the attitude that only Nazi collaborators and Holocaust-complicit criminals supported the resistance against the Soviet occupation. To compromise the Lithuanian resistance the Kremlin cynically manipulates the Holocaust tragedy to achieve the goals of its history policy. Russian propagandists further intensified this activity as the Lithuanian Parliament declared 2018 the year of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas – one of the leaders and symbols of the Lithuanian resistance movement. For the same reasons Lithuania’s aspirations to render legal assessment of Soviet crimes against Lithuanian people and the claim to compensate damage suffered during the Soviet occupation trigger furious reaction from the Kremlin.
Document data: ISBN 978-609-412-162-3 Link: https://www.vsd.lt/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2019-Gresmes-internetui-EN.pdf
The reference to TV from Russia being blocked in itself is not directly related to minority issues in Lithuania – however, these issues were discussed in the related litigation before the Court of Justice of the EU.
Concerning the “Immortal Regiment” memorial marches – for contrast, see how this commemorative event is evaluated by the state of New York at https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/resolutions/2017/j4960