According to the municipality, the rhetoric of the exercise organized by Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas instigated national hatred and hostility of the Lithuanian community against Poland.
“Proclamation of the People’s Republic of Šalčininkai, a name that is a parallel to the Donbass People’s Republic established during the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, and identification of the Šalčininkai residents with Donbass separatists is a cynical provocation and yet another mockery of the society,” reads the municipality’s press release.
The municipality’s officials say that Lithuania’s central administration, which did not notify about the exercise in advance, “ignores the local administration and manipulates the district, which is home to national minorities.”
Poles make three in four local residents. Among 25 members of the local council, 21 represent the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania.
The interior minister, Misiūnas, apologized to the local population for the inconveniences, emphasizing that the ethnic composition of the local population was not a factor in the choice of the location for the exercise.
“The exercise will be repeated in other parts of Lithuania, therefore, the accusations about distinguishing of the minorities are ungrounded,” Misiūnas told BNS via his spokesman.
The Interior Ministry’s training focused on response to troops wearing uniforms without any distinguishing signs. The scenario reminds the 2014 annexation of Crimea when Russian troops entered the region with civilian clothing and uniforms without any signs. The Russian forces were dubbed as “little green men.”
Under the tactical training scenario worked out by instructions from Interior Ministry Eimutis Misiūnas, special forces of a country hostile to Lithuania have illegally crossed the border and readied to take over one of the border checkpoints and the Šalčininkai police station.