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2020.02.14 08:00

LRT English Newsletter: Russian trolls and fishy smells

Benas Gerdžiūnas, Justinas Šuliokas, LRT.lt2020.02.14 08:00

LRT English Newsletter – February 14, 2020

Before we start in earnest, we found ourselves in Russian propaganda operation earlier this week.

We knew something was fishy when a story on ‘missing’ Lithuanian conscripts started trending on Slovak anti-government Facebook pages. We dug deeper and found that a St Petersburg's troll farm offspring used our story to attack NATO and target Slovakia – seen by Russia as a “weak link” in the Alliance. The full story here.

Now, for the rest of this week’s edition, get ready for a quick-fire round of Lithuania in world affairs.

LITHUANIA AND IRAQ

In newly revealed details, Lithuanian troops took up positions several kilometres outside the Al Asad coalition base in Iraq awaiting a potential ground attack. Hours later, the first Iranian missiles struck. An LRT.lt journalist profiles the turbulent night days after the US killing of Iran's top general.

LITHUANIA AND BELARUS

After Belarus was told by Moscow to buy oil at “global market prices” amid the standoff over tariffs, the US ambassador expressed hope that America could sell gas to Minsk via Lithuania. This comes after a shipment of Norwegian crude already departed Klaipėda for Belarus.

LITHUANIA AND EU

EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson pledged compromise on migration while on a visit in Vilnius. The Lithuanian side stressed that any redistribution of asylum seekers should be done on a voluntary basis.

The so-called EU mobility package is still on the table. Vilnius says it will disadvantage Central and Eastern Europe, and might together with several other countries turn to the Court of Justice.

LITHUANIA AND US

Lithuania has joined American-led religious freedom alliance. Officials in Vilnius said they’re doing so out of the need to address religious discrimination, but also after taking into account Lithuania’s strategic partnership with the US.

Meanwhile, US troops in Lithuania were undeterred by boggy mud to display fire power of the tanks they brought along with them from Texas.

LITHUANIA AND BALTICS

Baltic unity is back on the table, at least from the Lithuanian perspective, as Estonia and Latvia are in talks to join Vilnius in boycotting Belarusian energy once its nuclear plant becomes operational.

Yet, the Rail Baltica project leaves much to be desired – the three PMs will meet again to discuss faster implementation of the critical railway line.

LITHUANIA AND LITHUANIA

A new right-wing party emerged in Lithuania claiming to champion family values and oppose (the EU’s) liberal worldview. Though not the EU itself.

Lithuania did not thread the path of Sweden when it voted against changing prostitution laws to punish the client, not the sex worker.

Grappling for large investment, the Economy Ministry is pushing corporate tax breaks for big business.

SOMETHING SMELLS:

I – Grigeo Klaipėda, the manufacturer of cardboard who was caught allegedly polluting the Curonian Lagoon, is now blaming the former executives.

II – Maxima revealed it sold 11 tons of potentially salmonella-infected meat to customers. Fear not, they said, as long as you cooked it right you’re alright. The supermarket chain then took the decision to destroy another 160 tons of meat.

III – British cops sussed out something was wrong when a Lithuanian man sent a drug price list to a police-registered phone. He was arrested and subsequently sentenced.

PRESIDENT NAYS PRIME MINISTER

Lithuanian president vetoed the appointment of the 29-year-old adviser to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis as the economy minister. Skvernelis says the disagreement over the embattled transport minister, Jeruslav Narkevič, is to blame. If you remember, Nausėda repeatedly called for Narkevič to resign, but he was backed by PM Skvernelis and the Cabinet.

MORE CORONAVIRUS

Last week, all emergency services were up on their feet when a potentially coronavirus-infected passenger landed in Vilnius Airport. He was diagnosed with a regular flu and released home.

Meanwhile, the lockdown in China is starting to affect the business of Lithuanian logistics and shipment companies.

WEEK OF FEATURES:

We had a week filled with great features from our partners. Here are some of them:

After Fox News-related scandal last week, we launch a fact-checking project with our colleagues at LRT.lt by looking at whether Lithuanian cities are truly the “deadliest” in Europe?

February 12 marked the five-year anniversary of the Minsk-2 ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. However, the fighting goes on. What are the chances of salvaging the deal?

How depopulation cements a regressive political culture. From our partners at Emerging Europe, find the story here.

And a trending story on LRT English – the first Jewish quarter in Vilnius.

CORRECTION: The earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Grigeo Klaipėda as a producer of toilet paper products. Grigeo plant near Vilnius, not Grigeo Klaipėda, manufactures various hygiene products, according to the company representatitives told LRT English

Would you like to contribute to LRT English? Please send your suggestions, submissions, and pitches to english@lrt.lt

Written by Benas Gerdžiūnas
Edited by Justinas Šuliokas