Lithuanian formin dismisses Duma accusations of discrimination against Russians in Baltics

  • 2023-04-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Wednesday dismissed the Russian State Duma's accusations of discriminatory policy in the three Baltic states toward Russian-speakers, saying that such statements run counter to reality and are reminiscent of Russia's own crackdown on dissenters.

In a statement unanimously adopted on Tuesday, the lower house of the Russian parliament said that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia "have embarked on a criminal course of total displacement of the Russian language from all social spheres, mass media and education system and their authorities do not conceal their neo-fascist affiliations". 

"We see nothing new, actually," Landsbergis told reporters, commenting on the statement. "It is very difficult to look at such information objectively, given what Russia itself is doing to its own people."

"This is a state that has removed itself from any Western world and any civilizational publicly accepted norms, and has placed itself in a different age and a different system of rules, so all the advice and all the assessments that come out of it (..) do not correspond to reality in any way," he noted.

In its statement, the State Duma "resolutely condemns the repressive policy of the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian governments against the Russian-speaking population". 

The three countries are also accused of "pursuing a repressive policy and promoting nationalism and intolerance against Russians for a long time".

"Brutal Russophobic persecution, bullying of children in schools and even kindergartens, harassment of journalists, destruction of cultural and memorial heritage and change of historical facts has become a standard," the statement reads. 

Landsbergis said that "there is probably no bigger country that represses its population more (than Russia which) is sending them to the front like cannon fodder". 

"Speaking about repression, the (Russian) opposition has chosen Lithuania as its refuge. Is it not repression if the only choice they have is to flee?" the minister said.  

"Vladimir Kara-Murza has been jailed for 25 years, is this not repression? Actually, it is impossible to answer such questions objectively," he said.

A Moscow court on Monday sentenced the Kremlin critic to 25 years in prison. 

Landsbergis has called for sanctions against those involved in his imprisonment.

Kara-Murza is one of Russia's most prominent opposition politicians, a human rights activist, a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in 2015, and a long-standing critic of the Kremlin regime.