2020.09.18 07:00

LRT English Newsletter: Big potatoes and old axes

Benas Gerdžiūnas, Justinas Šuliokas, LRT.lt2020.09.18 07:00

LRT English Newsletter – September 18, 2020

A woman in Lithuania has unearthed a mega potato weighing almost a kilogramme. What a Cepelinas. Meanwhile, you can see another monster exhibit – a 13,000-year-old Baltic hunting axe in Lithuania’s National Museum.

But moving on to the actual news.


An adviser to the Lithuanian president said coronavirus in the country was “under control”. Although the spread of the virus is milder than in March and April, figures (see the graph here) indicate that Lithuania is dipping into the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic – 62 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed on Thursday, the biggest daily increase since the the peak in mid-April.


Moscow and Minsk have claimed that being in Lithuania has affected the statements of Belarus’ opposition candidate Tikhanovskaya, that Poland and Lithuania are destabilising Belarus, and even that the protesters are being trained by the United States in Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine.

Nonsense, replied the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, adding that the Kremlin had spread the same disinformation during the Ukrainian Maidan revolution.

Meanwhile, despite claims of defensive drills, Belarus and Russia are practicing “worrying” offensive military manoeuvres, according to the Lithuanian military. It poses no direct threat, however, it said. But Lithuania’s vocal support for Belarusian people did result in more disinformation attacks against the country.


The covert channels on the Telegram app do actually help coordinate the protests in Belarus. Their discrete whereabouts, undisclosed methods of making the decisions, and cases of misinformation may be a cause for concern in the near future.


Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has pledged to support Poland in its ongoing rule of law dispute with Brussels, adding that Vilnius could follow Warsaw’s example to “de-sovietise our justice system”.


Lithuania has been welcoming Belarusian people fleeing repressions – providing 205 permits to cross the border as of mid-September. Now, the country is also competing to attract some of the 1,500 IT firms based in Belarus that may consider relocating away from the internet outages and the repressive regime.


However, Lithuania says it will not take in refugees from Greece after the Moria camp fire on Lesbos island. We are busy with Belarus, said the Interior Ministry.

According to LRT English sources, the country is bracing itself for a potential influx of hundreds, if not thousands, of Belarusian refugees if (or when) the country’s economy tanks amid the ongoing protests against Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.


New regulations: arrivals must fill out an online form before they board the plane (they may also cut self-isolation time under the updated procedures); people coming from several more European countries will no longer need to self-isolate after Lithuania changed the threshold.


Although Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisans are known as the Forest Brothers, women also played an important part in the resistance. But what was the role of the American CIA in the Baltic struggles?


– In Lithuania, you will soon have to choose a private electricity provider. What do you need to know?

In numbers: the Baltic states and Slovakia are the EU's lowest recipients of Chinese investment.

– Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is off the hook – Lithuania will no longer try to summon him to court.

– Netflix's Young Wallander showcases non-UNESCO side of Vilnius. Have a look.

– An online theatre performance in Lithuania wasn’t merely a gimmick – the play had been written well before the pandemic with a dystopian scenario in mind, which materialised during the coronavirus lockdowns.

– How Lithuania fought and failed to stop Belarusian nuclear plant, which is due to become operational in November? Read here.

– And here are some squidgy seals wobbling into the Baltic Sea.

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Written by Benas Gerdžiūnas
Edited by Justinas Šuliokas