This time the Vilnius district attorney’s office reported they dropped an investigation into an article containing anti-Semitism and sowing ethnic discord on the internet page of the weekly newspaper Laisvas Laikraštis. The pre-trial investigation was begun at the request of Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky.
“I can’t even count anymore how many times both the Community and I have sent these requests in. Dozens. So far all investigations have been halted because investigators never seem to find any evidence of a crime,” Kukliansky commented.
She said the Community will continue to publicize each and every complaint and each and every rejection, even if the spreaders of hate receive extra publicity for their articles and comments because of it.
This time the article at issue was called “Debates of 2009: Let’s Pay as Much as They Ask and They’ll Leave Us Alone!” at the URL https://www.laisvaslaikrastis.lt/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9571&catid=31&Itemid=101. The article featured a large collage computer graphic of Fainia Kukliansky and others demanding not only money, but justice in dollar amounts, and claimed payments by the Lithuanian state to Holocaust survivors and Jews would never be sufficient.
The prosecutor’s office was unable to determine even the identity of the author of the article. Laisvas Laikraštis ran the text with the byline Raimondas Navickas, which they said was copied from facebook. They said they didn’t have any contact information for the author.
A press release from the prosecutor said they asked the Inspectorate of Journalistic Ethics to provide their assessment of the publication, who said the text didn’t contain ethnic slurs, didn’t sow discord and didn’t incite discrimination against a group of people based on their ethnicity. The inspectorate also said the text contained the views of the author on specific social phenomena, to wit, the activities of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in paying compensation for former Jewish communal property, and also the views of part of society regarding relations between the Republic of Lithuania and the Jews on this issue.
The finding of the Inspectorate of Journalist Ethics was signed by Laimutis Laužikas.
The rejection letter from the office of the prosecutor said “it was not determined this author through some specific words made fun of, debased, incited hatred or incited discrimination against a group of people based on their ethnicity. An expert (specialist) who investigated the article noted in his conclusion that although the text did contain rather controversial views on Lithuanian historical, political and social phenomena, it did not contain clear calls for what could be considered successful inciting acts of communication at all.”
The journalistic ethics investigator apparently didn’t see the collage computer graphic with the words under chairwoman Faina Kukliansky which read: “We don’t want property, only justice, preferably in cash.”
“Although the article upon which, it seems, this picture was based, didn’t claim Faina Kukliansky had said this exact phrase, it is believed there is no basis for assessing this as the spreading of deceptive information which might degrade, debase or limit confidence in her,” the district attorney found.
“I see now that all anti-Semitic statements and spreading of ethnic discord can be covered by the phrases ‘author’s views’ and ‘sarcasm,'” Kukliansky commented.
She added this decision by the prosecutor would be reported to a special working group set up by the Lithuanian interior minister for countering hate crimes and hate speech in Lithuania. Kukliansky is a member of this working group.
“It will be interesting to hear the opinions of the representatives of other institutes,” she added.