VILNIUS – With Russia pressing on with its invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania has extended the state of emergency in the country until the midnight of April 20.
The Seimas adopted a respective decision with 71 votes in favor, 3 votes against and 43 abstentions.
Protection of the country’s borders and strategic facilities will be stepped up and all broadcasts of media outlets controlled by Russia and Belarus will be banned during that period. Also, the decision provides for a possibility to restrict the activities of Lithuanian media outlets.
Opposition MPs called those measures excessive, unfounded and too restrictive as regards the constitutional rights of the country’s citizens.
“What we restrict are not citizens’ rights but the rights of propagandists to spread lies about Putin’s war against Ukraine in Lithuania in the first place,” Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said dismissing doubts about potential excessive restrictions.
As Russia unleashed its invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania was placed under a state of emergency from 1 p.m. on February 24 through March 10. Once it expires, the new decision adopted by the Seimas will come into effect immediately.
The decision provides, with some minor exceptions, that it is prohibited to rebroadcast in the territory of Lithuania or disseminate online any programs of entities established, owned directly or indirectly, controlled or financed by Russia and Belarus, while the state of emergency is in place.
It also provides for a possibility to restrict the activities of Lithuanian media outlets if they spread disinformation or war propaganda, incite war, call to breach Lithuania’s sovereignty by force and such actions are related to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
The decision bans to organize or gather at assemblies “aimed at supporting, in any form or scope, the actions of the Russian Federation and/or the Republic of Belarus, which caused the introduction of the state of emergency” while this state of emergency remains in place.
Moreover, the decision includes a ban to take pictures, film or otherwise record, collect on-the-spot information about companies, installations and assets that are part of the energy sector and are important for national security as well as about the movement of military equipment of Lithuania and its allies.
With the state of emergency in force, the government is allowed to use the state reserve for accepting war refugees, providing assistance to Ukraine.
The state of emergency regime also implies stepped-up protection of the facilities important for national security and the state border, tightened visa regime for foreigners and the suspension of acceptance of visa applications from the citizens of Russia and Belarus.