• August 2, 2017
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Radczenko: Trust of Poles to Kremlin media is a result of Vilnius and Warsaw negligence

Survey of inhabitants of Vilnius, Kłajpeda, Visaginias, Šalčininkai and Vilnius Region – especially Poles and Russians, carried by opinion research institute Baltijos tyrimai/Gallup on order of Centre For East European Studies has been criticized by Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and by polish opposition. Questions about Putin, Kremlin propaganda and Crimea were asked only to representatives of national minorities, while the situation among lithuanians is not any better. And here are the results of another survey – carried by Lithuanian Social Research Centre in February 2016 – considering attitude of Lithuanians and non-Lithuanians to different kinds of dangers and estimating their safety.

The survey has been shown to various Seimas committees and created confusion among parliamentarians. They even considered not publishing it for public view. It came out that the biggest threats for national security of Lithuania is emigration, unemployment, crime and bad economic situation. Whereas Russia and russian hybrid threats people listed on 16th place (74% of lithuanian citizens consider this threat as significant, while European average is 86%). Much bigger concern is risen by refugees and alcoholics. On the other hand, survey showed that loyalty and patriotism of lithuanian Poles is close to national average – 52% Lithuanians and 47% of Poles, but only 37% of Russians is proud of having lithuanian citizenship. 57% of Lithuanians, 39% of Poles and only 27% of Russians is ready to defend Lithuania from aggression, and to defend Lithuania with weapons in their hands – 21% of Lithuanians, 9% of Poles and 2% of Russians. Comparing to year 2014 number of people ready to protect their homeland has fallen (from 57% to 48%) and number of people who are against this idea has risen (from 14% to 34%).

According to research made by Lithuanian Social Research Centre danger of russian army invasion is noticed by only 21%, only 13% notice danger of Lithuania being dependent on supply fuels from Russia. Only 17% of lithuanian citizens considered our country to be prepared for protecting itself from Russia (53% have different opinion). 38% of people said that lithuanian militaries are ready to fight off, 48% thinks that Lithuanians can do it with help of NATO. Ignoring tight geopolitical situation – lithuanian citizens feel much more safe these days than many years before. In 1999 only 18% of Lithuanians felt safe, in 2002 – 20%, right now – 39%. It seems that when the shock after incidents in Donbass and Crimea passed, we started to believe in safety again. It is alarming, considering that we are a front-line country.

Very often – even anti-Kremlin polish publicists and political scientists – they criticize the lack of research that would prove dependency between pro-Kremlin attitude and using russian media. For the ones for who it is not enough that people who try to be patriots use calque straight from Kremlin media (for example that Battle of Grunwald on the 15th of July 1410 was a great polish-lithuanian victory over fascism), I highly recommend research of Lithuanian Social Research Centre. It confirms that such dependency exists. 48% of lithuanian Russians and 42% of lithuanian Poles trust Kremlin media, only 6% of lithuanians. Only 21% who trust russian media, consider Russia as a threat for lithuanian security. Among ones who trust lithuanian media – 53%. 74% of lithuanians do not justify russian occupation of Crimea, 61% of lithuanian poles and 18% of lithuanian russians. In mentioned survey „Baltijos tyrimai”/CSEW 43% of national minority representatives considers Crimea annexation as justified. In the survey of Lithuanian Social Research Center 50% of Lithuanians consider Russia as unfriendly country, 28% of poles and only 9% of Russians. Similar results were noticed in the research of „Baltijos tyrimai”/CSEW: Russia in considered as unfriendly country by 33% of lithuanian poles.

We are absorbing russian propaganda, because we know russian language and because of mental nearness. For example according to 2015 survey of PEW Research Centre, although Lithuania is a Union and catholic country in terms of values is to a great extent Eastern Christian culture. For example 85% of Russians and 72% of Lithuanians says that homosexual behavior is not propper. In Poland only half of mature people (48%) thinks similar. At least one-third of people in Orthodox countries and 43% in Lithuania thinks that their governments should support spreading beliefs and religious values. Support for such government actions is significantly smaller in most of catholic countries. In Poland, Croatia and Hungary most of the people believe that religion should be separated from policy.

We can blame method of caring this surveys, types of people who took part in it, but all of the results are similar to great extent. Difference of 5-7 % is significant, but not radical when speaking about conclusions. What are the conclusions? Is the glass half full or half empty?

On one hand, when it comes to attachment to homeland, proudness of lithuanian citizenship – lithuanian Poles are not far from national average and from Lithuanians and they even are outrunning them (for example in case of military aggression only 10% of lithuanian Poles would try to run away abroad, while among lithuanians it is 17%). On the other hand, there are some alarming signals. One of them is trust in kremlin media. 42% of Poles in Lithuania and 6% of Lithuanians – it is a huge difference. Lack of trust results in justifying Russian Crimea annexation by about 40% of lithuanian Poles and 60% considers Russia as a friendly country or does not want to protect homeland from aggression.

It is a result of negligence of Warsaw and Vilnius (lack of good quality media in Vilnius Region and a free access to it – especially to polish TV) and thoughtless while ‘absorbing’ media content. We have to be glad that Crimea propaganda has not done huge mess in heads of lithuanian Poles as it has done in lithuanian Russians. But we are not far from it. I think that Vilnius and Warsaw still do not see or do not want to see the problem, but even if they do – they do not want to spend even few Euros to do something about it…

Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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