Staunton, July 25 – The ethnic Russian minority in Lithuania – some 4.8 percent of the population of that Baltic country – has seldom attracted much attention from Moscow, a marked contrast to Russian propaganda efforts in Latvia and Estonia. But now, activists in the community say that is finally beginning to change.
Such a development if true is especially worrisome given that it is coming on the eve of the Zapad-2017 military exercises in Belarus, when Russia will be introducing massive forces in that country and may want to promote problems elsewhere to cover what some fear may be a move toward regime change in Minsk.
Consequently, the reports of the leadership of the Union of Ethnic Russians of Lithuania, a marginal group at best most of the time, may now be far more significant. At the very least they deserve to be noted as an indication that the Putin regime is prepared to play a Russian ethnic card in Lithuania even if that card is far from having the highest face value.
(That other minority groups, including the Poles and the Belarusians, may be more important targets for Russian efforts in Lithuania was recently suggested by another Russian commentator. For a discussion of his remarks and what they may mean for Vilnius, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/07/there-may-be-ethnic-card-to-be-played.html.)
Vyacheslav Titov, president of the Klaipeda section of the Union of Ethnic Russians of Lithuania and a deputy in the local council, told Denis Lepsky of the Rubaltic portal Moscow bears some of the blame for the resurgence of “aggressive Russophobia” and attempts at the rewriting of the history of World War II (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/25072017-soyuz-russkikh-litvy-rossiya-dolzhna-zhestko-reagirovat-na-vypady-rusofobii/).
“For long years,” Titov continues, “Russia did not block the transformation of the Baltic region into ‘a preserve of cultural Nazism’ and ignored this process.” Had it responded sooner and more harshly, many of the worst features of this trend might have been avoided, the Russian activist says.
He continues: “In my view, the Russian Federation should more harshly defend the truth and not allow the falsification of historical events. Today, alas, we do not see an adequate and sharp reaction to attempts by the Baltic establishment to change and rewrite history” of the second world war.
“We, the ethnic Russian residents of the Baltic region, have been living in this milieu already 25 years. We are constantly being told that we are the guilty ones who occupied” Lithuania and her neighbors, Titov says. And the ethnic Russians of the region have waited for Moscow to come to the defense of truth and of their community.
Now, he continues, there is reason for optimism, even celebration. “I’m pleased,” he says, “that Russia now is undertaking efforts to put everything in its proper place, to provide information support and to enlighten people. [As a result,] this theme isn’t being ignored in the media If earlier, nothing was done, today we finally see that Russia has begun to react.”
It would have been better, Titov says, if Moscow had done so earlier, but the adage better late than never applies.