- April 28, 2015
Anti-Polish graffiti – coincidence or tendency?
In January inscriptions igniting national feuds appeared in Klaipėda. In February, a provocative inscription in the centre of Vilnius district of Naujoji Vilnia. A week ago, once again, feud-igniting inscriptions in Šalčininkai. This week anti-Polish and anti-Russian slogans appeared on the houses and monument on one of Kaunas’ streets.
Still mere vandalism, political provocation – or a dangerous tendency, foreshadowing something bigger than just debasing the dignity of national minorities?
‘Those and similar inscriptions are meant to compromise our country and that is the main mission of its authors’ – in a conversation with ‘Kurier’ says a Member of Parliament of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (ZO/ChDL) party, Arvydas Anušauskas from the parliament’s Homeland Security and Defence Committee.
As he explains, previous arrests show that the authors of similar inscriptions are members of ideologically extreme, and thankfully marginal, groups.
‘Sometimes it is difficult to gauge the nature of their extremes – whether they are right- or left-wing. One thing is certain, that the initiators of these actions are beyond the borders of our countries’ – he points out.
The MP also thinks that although cases of hate-speech slogans are frequent lately, there is no ground to claim that it is some sort of tendency. Anušauskas points out however, that such actions can hardly be excused as mere vandalism.
That is why security experts believe that every incident of such nature is to be investigated and perpetrators apprehended.
Unfortunately, the police to this day has not been able to find the perpetrators of , for instance, January inscriptions in Klaipėda.
We recall that it was when in the night, vandals wrote several anti-Russian slogans on the walls of the house belonging to the daughter of MP Irina Rozowa. At the time, this incident was linked with the upcoming local government elections, as the MP is one of the leaders of Russian Alliance, that run in the elections allied with Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. Some observers took the vandalism to be a pre-election provocation, others – mainly politicians – kept believing that the January incident was prearranged in Moscow.
‘The provocation benefits only Kremlin. Benefits in every way. It was not even written by Lithuanians’ – wrote then, on one of the social networks, MP Rasa Juknevičienė of ZO/ChDL. She also pointed out that the anti-Russian slogans, while written in Lithuanian, are nonetheless full of grammatical and stylistic errors.
A few days after the incident in Klaipėda, in the Vilnius district of Naujoji Vilnia someone wrote on a wall of a local café ‘Vilnius=Donbas’. The slogan was linked with the emergence of the website of so-called Lithuanian People’s Republic. Its authors, inspired by real, separatist so-called people’s republics in eastern Ukraine, promote similar actions in Lithuania, in the Vilnius Region inhabited mostly by Lithuanian Poles. The Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation about it, but as we recently informed our readers, it is still unknown who is behind the online aggression against the territorial unity of Lithuania.
Another investigation about inscriptions was commenced a week ago by the Šalčininkai police.
In the town, on the walls of several buildings, as well as the concrete fence around the local market, appeared inscriptions ‘Lenkai lauk iš Lietuvos’ (‘Poles get out of Lithuania’).
This time, their distinguished citizenship was demonstrated by the community of Šalčininkai. The youth of the town together – regardless of nationality – removed the slogans right after police secured the evidence. According to the police, all the slogans, in all four places, were painted with the same paint. The style of writing was also similar, which suggests that ‘the author’ of all four slogans is the same. Such inscriptions, in a Polish-dominated town, appeared for the first time.
Not for the first time however, the inscriptions appeared on the walls of Kaunas houses last Sunday and Monday. This time though, they were clearly of a nature qualified as criminal offence under Article 170 Sec. 2 of the Penal Code. It states that those who publically ridicule, express contempt for, urge hatred of or incite discrimination against group of persons, on grounds of race, religion or nationality and language, shall be punished by a fine, arrest or imprisonment for a term of up to two years.
Kaunas police reports that at noon of April 26, on the walls of two houses on 11th March Street there were spotted slogans ‘Rusai – padugnės’ (which can be translated as Russians are scum, rabble or filth) and ‘Rusai, namo’(Russians go home). And in the morning, April 27, also on 11th March street, anti-Polish slogans were spotted in the local park on the Mother Monument. Someone wrote on it ‘Lenkai lopai’ (‘Poles ninnies’).
Kaunas officers started an investigation in this case as well.
Translated by Antonina Górka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.