Lithuania’s NGOs refuse to talk to Russian-language First Baltic Channel

Sergejus Muravjovas
DELFI (A.Didžgalvio nuotr.)

Transparency International Lithuanian Chapter said in a public statement that Lithuania’s State Security Department considers the PBK a threat to national security.

“We don’t want assist those who might want to undermine the state of Lithuania,” reads the TILC’s response to the editorial office of the PBK’s program Lithuanian Time, signed by TILC executive director Sergejus Muravjovas and two partners, journalists Rytis Juozapavičius and Aurimas Perednis.

The TILC also says the PBK does not comply with the four media transparency criteria, including clear error correction, transparent ownership, transparent staff policy and transparent information preparation policy.

“If the PBK is managed by the Russian government, then in what ways is it managed and is there any insurance against the Kremlin politicians interfering with the work of the editorial office?” the TILC letter asks.

The NGO also drew attention to the TV channel’s position regarding a programme on the 13 January 1991 massacre in Lithuania. The programme caused outrage in the country when it openly denied Soviet aggression.

“Although the BMA, the company operating the PBK, expressed regret over the fact that NTV Mir Lithuania’s program on the events of 13 January might have hurt the feelings of Lithuanian audiences, such a statement cannot be considered an error correction,” the letter said.

The Vilnius-based Human Rights Monitoring Institute has also refused to talk to the PBK. Its director Dovilė Šakalienė told BNS that, judging from the publicly-accessible information, one cannot consider the PBK an ethical and impartial media outlet.

“We negatively evaluate the obvious propaganda war that is aimed at discrediting our state, democracy as well as the principles of human rights and freedoms, and also poses threat to national security, independence and integrity,” Šakalienė said.

“It’s obvious that the denial of fundamental rights and freedoms has become a key tool in drawing the line between democratic states complying with the rule of law and defending people’s dignity on the one hand and, on the other, countries that trample democracy for the power to manipulate their own citizens, assort them and play “the superior nation” games. There’s no point in talking about the parallels of history repeating itself as now it’s every man’s personal responsibility to decide whether we’ll be able to withstand that pressure and be able to clearly evaluate the propaganda games and not to get involved in them,” the head of the institute said.

In a report published in March, the State Security Department said the PBK was “one of Russia’s instruments of influence for the implementation of informational and ideological policy goals”. “Russian-language media outlets in Lithuania are directly influenced and controlled by the executor’s of Russia’s information policy,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the PBK says the NGOs violate TV viewers’ right to impartial and comprehensive information. Lithuanian Time editor Romualda Poseveckaja said in her letter, which has also been published by the TILC, that the goal of the programme was “to objectively inform Russian-speakers and representatives of other national minorities about events in Lithuania in the Russian and Lithuanian languages”.

“The journalists behind this programme are Lithuanian citizens and are accredited by the Ministry of the Interior and other state institutions. The news program Lithuanian Time has been aired in Lithuania for a decade now and it has nothing to do with programmes and other content produced in Russia, and it’s fundamentally different from them in terms of its content. We have never received any complaint from any state institution or official over the contents of the news programme produced in Lithuania and it’s not mentioned in the SSD report,” Poseveckaja said in her letter.

BNS could not reach Poseveckaja for comment.

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