Police raid newspaper offices for alleged anti-Semitism

  • 2000-11-30
  • TBT staff
VILNIUS - A prosecutor from the Vilnius regional prosecutor's office and seven officers of Lithuania's State Security Department sear-ched the premises of the Lietuvos Aidas daily on Nov. 21 as part of their in-vestigation into anti-Semitic publications by the paper.

The original copies of the two anti-Semitic articles published by the paper some time ago haven't been found. The owner of the daily and the director of the Lietuvos Aidas company, Algirdas Pilvelis, had promised to deliver the documents to the police them himself but failed to do so.

As soon as police arrived to carry out the search, Pilvelis was rushed to hospital with high blood pressure. "Pilvelis became very nervous after the state security started to question him," said an employee of Lietuvos Aidas who asked not to be named.

The Vilnius city pro-secution is carrying out a criminal investigation laun-ched by the Prosecutor General's Office on Nov. 3 regarding anti-Semitic pub-lications in Lietuvos Aidas.

At the end of October the Lithuanian State Se-curity Department con-cluded that articles pub-lished by Lietuvos Aidas contained material inciting ethnic discord, which is against the law in this country.

The articles emphasize the Jewish ethnic roots of Karl Marx, and the Jewish nation is accused of creating Marxism by pointing out the ethnicity of the first Russian Bolshevik leaders. Jews are accused of the sovietization of Lithuania and committing genocide and killing tens of millions throughout the world. The authors of the articles call for the es-tablishment of an inter-national tribunal to investigate the "crimes co-mmitted by Jews" against humanity.

One of the items, a letter from Klaipeda, was signed with three fictitious names. There are no such residents in Klaipeda, said the State Security Department. By law, the owner of the daily and the writers are responsible for these publications. Aurimas Drizius, editor-in-chief of Lietuvos Aidas, says that the two scandalous articles were published on the opinion page and have nothing to do with the opinion of the daily's editorial staff. Drizius says his daily is open even to weird opinions, but he himself doesn't support them. He accused President Valdas Adamkus and the Lithuania's State Security Department of using "Soviet-style methods."

Adamkus, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, the Lithuanian journalist union and Lithuanian Jewish community have strictly condemned the anti-Semitic articles published in Lietuvos Aidas. The daily has a circulation of 10,000 copies. Observers say that it will be difficult for Pilvelis to avoid court hearings.