VILNIUS – Lithuania’s media editors and journalists surveyed by BNS have named Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the biggest global event of 2022 and inflation crisis, partly triggered by the conflict in Ukraine, as the top event of the year in Lithuania.
Asked to specify the most significant developments of the year in Lithuania, they also mentioned an influx of Ukrainian refugees, confusion over transit to and from Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, acquittal of the accused in a high-profile political corruption case involving MG Group, one of Lithuania’s biggest business groups formerly known as MG Baltic, as well as termination of the contract between Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), the country's state-owned railway company, and Belarusian fertilizer giant Belaruskali.
In addition to the invasion of Ukraine, journalists also named the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and protests in Iran as the top events abroad.
“Despite [initial] pessimism over Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia’s offensive, the country has remained on the map. In addition to dictating the political agenda in Lithuania and other Western countries, the war has also affected the lives of all of us, first of all, in terms of concerns over the safety of our families and personal safety,” Saulius Jakucionis, BNS deputy director for content, said.
“THE YEAR OF FEAR AND CHAOS”
“Russia launched the biggest war in Europe since World War II” in the early hours of February 24, Vaidotas Beniusis, editor-in-chief of 15min.lt news portal, said.
Arturas Anuzis, editor-in-chief of tv3.lt news portal, described the year 2022 as “the year of fear and chaos”.
“The year 2022 has reminded Europe of what true instability really is, what the war really is, as is high inflation and fear to unleash a huge or even a nuclear war. This year has sowed many fears, more than ever – about a rapid defeat of Ukraine, about Russia’s threats, about the energy war with Russia, to mentioned just a few,” Anuzis said.
“[They – the Ukrainians] have forced the West to wake up and change its policies with respect to Russia as well as to perceive the necessity to take care of its own military security, which has deteriorated and still remains weakened as fast recovery of a crippled military industry is not possible,” he added.
Zigmas Zaikinas, chief producer of TV News Service at public broadcaster LRT, said that Russia’s war against Ukraine was leading to drastic changes in defense and economic security policies of the West.
Aleksandra Ketleriene, deputy editor-in-chief of LRT news portal, noted that the conflict would shape global developments in many years ahead.
“Many illusions and political strategies have collapsed and many more will collapse in the future. The world, which has failed to learn from the mistakes of World War II, now has the second chance. The question is, however, whether it will use it this time,” she said.
Ligita Krisiunaite, editor-in-chief of LNK TV news service, stated that the events of 2022 were not just the top events of the year but probably the events of the current century.
The war in Ukraine has been a driving force behind most major events in Lithuania this year, either directly or indirectly.
The country has found itself among the European countries hardest hit by soaring prices. Inflation peaked at 24.1 percent in September, which was its highest annual rate since August 1996.
Roma Pakeniene, editor of BNS business news desk, said that inflation had been triggered by a surge in energy prices, supply chain disruptions, increases in producer costs and the ensuing growth in prices of their products, as well as wage growth.
“On the one hand, the government moved to raise [various] payouts to cushion the effects of soaring prices. On the other hand, people were forced to act economical both when consuming energy and when doing day-to-day shopping,” she noted.
Erika Alonderyte, BNS business news desk journalist, pointed out that inflation had also affected businesses, which had been hit particularly hard by the energy resources price shock.
Viktorija Chockeviciute, business desk editor at delfi.lt news portal, said that record inflation in Lithuania had outpaced wage growth, which might also affect the quality of life due to emerging pressure to scale down consumption or greater difficulties to make savings or acquire a home.
“Looking forward to the next year, 2023, the issue of inflation will remain one of the key topics. Not just in terms of changes in consumer purchasing power but also in terms of possibilities of Lithuania’s businesses to remain competitive,” she added.