• February 21, 2019
  • 360

Election committee on LRT’s case

The representatives of six election committees claim that state broadcaster LRT ignores them and does not provide equal opportunities to speak out, and, what is more, LRT constricts some groups of citizens from accessing electoral information.

Docent PhD Andrius Stasiukynas, candidate for mayor of Vilnius on behalf of the “Junkis” election committee, said during a press conference at ELTA agency that the agitation statements of all mayor candidates filmed by the LRT can only be viewed on the Internet. This means that people with disabilities, the elderly and those who do not use the Internet will not have the opportunity to watch the debates.

“We would like to point out that a situation has arisen where information is limited for certain groups of people. Committees also take part in the elections and their rights have been violated so that they can participate on an equal footing with others. On Monday, the LRT public television broadcasted the pre-election program “LRT Forumas”, in which 6 candidates for the mayor of Vilnius met. Due to the large number of mayor candidates, everyone could not take part in the program, so it was decided to conduct a sociological survey and on its basis invite the most supported candidates. What is worth knowing is that there are already selected candidates who have a chance to win, and the rest is not worthy of attention. There are also many doubts about the method by which these tests were carried out. Most mayor candidates were simply ignored by the LRT. Let us recall that candidates during the election campaign should be treated equally. So please explain how electoral information will be provided to people with disabilities, the elderly, all those who do not use the Internet, and public television is the only source of information” said Andrius Stasiukynas, a candidate for the mayor of Vilnius.

Inga Laurušonė, a representative of the election committee “Judėk, Vilniau”, said that the LRT’s activities hinder the proper presentation of the less known candidates to the voters.

“Candidates for mayors from political parties have more funding, they are known to the majority of the public, they are more likely to advertise themselves than we, representatives of the committees” stressed Inga Laurušonė.

Rajmund Klonowski, the Mayor candidate of the “Vilniečių Lokys” Election Committee, claims that the candidates for the LRT Forumas pre-election programme were not selected transparently because the sociological survey was not conducted.

“Everyone who knows at least a little about statistics knows that a survey conducted on the Internet among 700 respondents in Lithuania is completely unrepresentative and it is not a sociological survey. What is more, such survey could be filled in by one person, having programmed an army of Internet bots. Thus, public television created the conditions for interest groups and third countries to influence the democratic process in Lithuania. There is also the question of the country’s reputation. Foreign press wrote that we have a democracy feast, two Polish candidates take part in the elections for mayor. And now the Poles were not invited to the debate. They ask us whether Lithuania discriminates national minorities. What should we reply?” – Rajmund Klonowski asked rhetorically.

Eskedar Maštavičienė, a representative of the “Gedimino miestas” committee, a refugee from Ethiopia who has lived in Vilnius for twelve years, said that she was disappointed with the undemocratic manifestations in Lithuania.

“My question as a political refugee is as follows – where is freedom of speech, where is a fair press?” – asked Eskedar Maštavičienė.

A written complaint to the LRT has been signed by six electoral committees that want to explain how electoral information will be provided to all citizens. The appeal to the LRT was signed by representatives of election committees: “Junkis”, “Judėk, Vilniau”, “Gedimino miestas”, “Vilniečių „Lokys”, “Vilnius gali” and “Bendruomeniškas Vilnius”. The representatives of the committees do not preclude the possibility of defending their rights in court.

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

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