The war in Ukraine has intensified the issue of national minorities. Experts say that the public is reassured that it is not them but the representatives of national minorities who have more faith in Russian propaganda and turn a blind eye to the fact that political views and exposure to propaganda are not necessarily linked to nationality, TV3.lt reported.
According to Vida Montvydaitė, head of the Department of National Minorities, it is being assumed that the influence of propaganda and the interpretation of the causes of the war is only a problem for national minorities and Russian speakers in Lithuania.
It’s not only Russian speakers who love propaganda
“This is not an interpretation of the views of all national minorities, there is a different information field in other countries, and not everyone has the same view of the war in Ukraine. If people are exposed to disinformation, if they have been exposed to information from Russia for decades, it is not a problem for national minorities. It is a part of society in all countries, where people are more easily manipulated, accept different information, and avoid taking responsibility for their actions,” said the Director of the Department, who stressed that national minorities living in Lithuania should not be blamed for anything because national hatred has terrible consequences.
Yulia Tyshchenko, an expert on national minorities from Ukraine, who is currently living in Lithuania, expressed a similar view.
According to her, Ukrainians living in Lithuania, children who go to, say, Russian-speaking schools, are confronted with kind attitudes on a daily basis, while angry, unhappy people are everywhere, so their antics should not be exaggerated.
As for the situation in Ukraine itself, she said that people there are now concerned about how to survive, not about who is what nationality because they are all Ukrainian citizens, which is the most important thing at the moment.
Rockets do not choose by nationality
“Russian missiles don’t ask whether you are Russian or Ukrainian. Ethnic Russians are fighting in Ukraine, defending their lands and their homes. For us, the war started eight years ago, not now. And what has changed since February? The attitude towards Russia and its citizens has changed; people do not realise how it could have come to this, how Russian citizens can support what Russia is doing, including the Russian-speaking people who live in Ukraine. Speculation that Russians in Ukraine are waiting for something is speculation”, she said.
She stressed that in terms of national minorities, the most persecuted people at the moment are the Crimean Tatars, whose self-governing bodies have been declared terrorist organisations by Russia and whose people have been put in jail and have disappeared. The presence of Tatars in Crimea, according to the expert, interferes with Russia’s stories that Crimea is Russia.
Ms Tyshchenko added that it was not known what nationality of Ukrainian citizens had come to Lithuania in greater numbers, as their passports did not state their nationality, only their citizenship.
She said the regions from which most of the visitors come should be looked at. At the moment, Lithuania is dominated by arrivals from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol.
According to the Head of the Department for National Minorities, we have not noticed or seriously assessed the Russian soft powers and their influence on our citizens for a long time. And these people, by watching concerts on Russian television, have not only been entertained but have also received certain messages that they believe.
“Maybe that is why up to 15% of the public believe that Russia is not to blame for the war in Ukraine. The information threat coming through the media has not been clearly understood. We have also noticed that the Lithuanian public is looking for reassurance that Russian-speaking schools are a problem and that national minorities are the most vulnerable to propaganda. However, I believe that political views are not dependent on nationality in this case,” the specialist said.
She also admitted that there was no need to list the nationalities of refugees coming to Lithuania from Ukraine. Although there are known cases where Roma, Jews or Karaites fleeing the war have found refuge here in the homes of representatives of their ethnic groups.