After the initiators of the referendum dangerous for the Lithuanian State stability suffered a crushing defeat and the police began an investigation on Pranciskus Šliužas speaking through the national TV debate, politicians and public spaces commentators have tempting to crush mercilessly any “Land defender.” After all, in fact, is not it funny that those who called on behalf of people, their leaders turned out to be impostors who did not have any confidence of the majority of citizens? Any elected politician, even a counselor in the outlying district, has his voter mandate and the initiators of the referendum invented the mandate themselves.
I do not believe that the nationalists’ leader and his mustachioed old boy not controlling himself could not understand why their efforts to confront Lithuania with the European Union may be beneficial. Moreover, their more intensive activity coincided completely with Vladimir Putin‘s political ideologists’ interest in eurosceptic forces in the West. But in addition to these the most commonly visible initiators in public referendum, Milda Bartašiūnaitė occupied with marketing of T-shirts with ironic inscription: “Russians are attacking”, expiring “brave way” remnants and green peasants killing Lithuania’s energy independence hopes several thousands of people took part in the Land defenders’ movement, especially in the province, where there were not so few patriots truly loving Lithuania with shining eyes.
Knocked on a patriotic trident, the hook of so called green and family values rhetoric, they did not felt how they appeared in a confined information space where they were fed with anti-Western propaganda constantly. Once I went to the farmers’ community meeting to learn about the news of EU direct payments, a rural man carpenters the bulletin board with the referendum initiators posters himself after a half of a year and believes sincerely that the sold land to an alien will no longer be part of the territory of Lithuania.
Šliužas burst out during the direct broadcast on LRT and presented its own particular approach to opponents. For his fellow Nationalists who expanded the party of old men from Smetona time with members of nationalist youth subcultures, the violence is not entirely ideologically alien to them even though it is not mentioned in the official program documents. Therefore, failure of the referendum followed immediately by the failure of the European Parliament elections and legal prosecution for advocacy of violence can lead to extreme right direction to become even more radicalized. More and more leaders gain influence not only by criticizing, in their opinion, the morally rotten West, but also being able to show a savior in the East.
Now there is the best opportunity for systemic political forces to recover loyalty to the country of some people who were deceived by the initiators of the referendum. Even if viewed superficially, if those few percent of the electorate are not worth of a job to be done, it is simply inhumane to leave them within the influence of cynical manipulators. Let’s not rush to write off the misguided people who really care about Lithuania as public enemies. As food poisoned patients feeling headache due to dyspepsia, people, who experienced career failures or abuse of official position by individual public officials, start blaming very quickly all the country’s political system and the European Union as supposedly imposing us its own rules. When they complained about their pain we did not hear them. Now we wonder why they believe in radicals and populists who pretended to hear them and slipped simple solutions to them, they showed them enemies who were to blame for all their poverty and disasters.
We still have to live a long time in this country and we cannot afford the luxury of being arrogant and donating tens of thousands of earnest, but naïve patriots. Especially, when the Russian planners of hybrid war dream to grow marionettes like the Donbass separatists they could pull the strings whenever they need to raise havoc in Lithuania.