LRT English Newsletter – March 17, 2023.
We’ve had a bit of a quiet week, but still, there have been some important developments.
So, Lithuania banning Russian news channels is nothing new. In fact, the Baltic states were among the first to impose bans, periodically, on Russian media since 2014. Come February 24, the bans became universal across the European Union, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
However, you may have noticed yourself that banned Russian TV channels remain accessible online, even if the stations have been taken off the air. So, what to do? For the past year, the Lithuanian authorities monitored and listed “all the IP addresses where Russian propaganda TV is being broadcast”. Now, access will be blocked to websites, as well as pirated TV boxes. However, it’s questionable how successful the bans (can ever) be. Those who want to access banned content can still use VPNs and other means to get inside the Kremlin’s parallel universe. So far, Lithuania is the only country to take the Russian TV bans that far.
But one way to “unplug” from all Russian sources, according to a prominent Lithuanian author, is to decolonise Russian culture. Not everyone was happy with her remarks in Brussels.
One such character to disagree could very well be Steven Seagal – he was among the key figures to launch a pro-Moscow lobby earlier this week. He said he was “one million percent” Russian.
(One very personal recommendation – a great podcast on why Steven Seagal “is so much worse than you’d ever imagine”.)
Lithuania has designated the Wagner private military company as a “terrorist organisation”, eliciting a thank-you note from Ukraine.
There’s little you probably don’t know about Wagner – it’s headed by Putin’s so-called chef Yevgeny Prigozhin and its mercenaries have been taking part in Russia’s war against Ukraine since 2014, as well as in conflicts around Africa and the Middle East. They are also a nasty bunch and are accused of a range of war crimes across the world. The regional context, meanwhile, also matters.
Vilnius officials have on several occasions warned that Wagner may test NATO (and Lithuania’s defences) by doing something. Recall, in December last year, one of Wagner’s neo-Nazi associates requested intel on the Baltic states, raising eyebrows and fears of an escalation.
– Some details of the upcoming tax reform proposals have been leaked, causing controversy (already).
– “Dumpling alliance” ties between Lithuania and Taiwan have been growing, but whether the relationship can become pragmatic is still questionable, according to a new report.
– Reports of children’s rights violations are on the rise in Lithuania.
– A German expert and former politician weighs in on the debate on Berlin’s troop deployments to Lithuania.
– A man missing for 12 days has been found dead in an unused supermarket toilet. He may have spent multiple days there undetected.
– For the first time, the Day of the Rescuers of Lithuanian Jews was commemorated on Wednesday.
– For more than a century, Chicago has remained one of the most important centres of the Lithuanian diaspora. However, the Lithuanian community there is slowly shrinking.
– A first Baltic citizen has been killed fighting in Ukraine.
– Lithuania is looking to plug its air defence holes. It may prove difficult – and costly.
– China wants Russia’s war in Ukraine to continue, according to Lithuania’s president.
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Written by Benas Gerdžiūnas
Edited by Ieva Žvinakytė