VILNIUS – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) opened its new office in Vilnius on Tuesday.
In his welcome address, President Gitanas Nauseda described the presence of RFE/RL, one of the world's biggest and most respected news organizations, in Vilnius as "a recognition of Lithuania's efforts to provide shelter and support to members of the Belarusian civil society", his office said in a press release.
"It is highly symbolic because Vilnius – the city of Pranciskus Skorina and Konstantinas Kalinauskas – has always played a major role as a meeting place for the brightest, freedom-loving people from Belarus," the president was quoted as saying at the opening event.
Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the parliament, noted that for some time now, Vilnius has been a platform for people who care about the democratic future of Belarus.
RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly said the opening of the office followed several years of open discussions and noted that for many years, Radio Free Europe had broadcast to Lithuanian audiences under Soviet oppression.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said at the opening event that the office opens up new opportunities for Belarusian journalists to spread the truth.
The Vilnius office hosts journalists exiled from Belarus in the wake of Alexander Lukashenko's fraudulent 2020 re-election, as well as a team from RFE/RL's Russian-language platform Current Time.
In December 2021, RFE/RL was declared an "extremist organization" in Belarus and the distribution and use of its news reports became a criminal offense.
According to Fly, two journalists from the Belarusian service, Ihar Losik and Andrey Kuznechyk, remain unjustly imprisoned by the Lukashenko regime.
On Thursday, RFE/RL will also officially open its new office in Riga, which will be "a Russian-language media hub and the operational center for expanded efforts against Kremlin disinformation and censorship".