MEDIA MONITORING: FEBRUARY 2020
318 publications related to the Polish ethnic minority were found in February; in 86 of them Poles were the main subject of the publication.
Poles were usually mentioned in the context of Lithuanian politics (76) and Lithuanian history (89), especially regarding February the 16th and publications related to it. 15 publications cited a Polish person or a representative of the Polish community (the same as last month), mostly in the context of March the 11th, when the signatory Česlav Okinčic or the ones that abstained from voting on the aforementioned day were interviewed.
There were no significant changes in regards to the context in which the Polish community was mentioned. Negative connotations were usually discovered either in publications about crime which stressed the ethnicity of the suspect, or in historical contexts, especially discussing the Lithuanian Wars of Independence in 1918-20.
It is also worth mentioning that the newspaper “Šiaurės Atėnai” showed solidarity with the only Polish newspaper “Kurier Wilenski” in Lithuania which has not received any state support this year („Solidarizuojamės su „Kurier Wilenski“, Šiaurės Atėnai).
434 publications mentioning Russians were found in February. In 71 of them the Russian minority was the main subject.
Russians were mostly mentioned in the context of Lithuanian-Russian politics (74) and Lithuanian politics (53) (mostly in relation to national security), history (70) and propaganda (72). The increase of pieces about propaganda is not surprising – 53 out of 80 publications about propaganda were about the incident in one of Klaipeda’s schools where a teacher broadcasted her very one-sided opinion about the current Russian government during one of her lessons.
A Russian person was cited in 7 publications, predominantly in interviews that were mostly about business or lifestyle. This is a decrease in comparison to January when 20 such publications were spotted.
There is a noticeable increase in positive articles – this is mostly related to publications about cultural events during which Russian culture was praised. Meanwhile, negative publications were mostly about history or crime. The drunken Russian stereotype is still used in publications every month.
Jews and Judaism
663 publications mentioning the Jewish ethnic minority were found in February; in 263 of them the Jewish community was the main subject.
47 publications cited Jews or the representatives of the Jewish community (42 in December), mainly regarding Jewish culture or discrimination against the community, including the investigation concerning anti-Semitic insults directed towards Faina Kukliansky, the head of Lithuanian Jewish community.
Topics that were discussed the most in the media were Jewish culture (53 publications), the Jewish history in Lithuania (171) and Lithuanian history (134), discrimination and hate crime directed at Jews (30). The latter was mostly covered by news reports, regarding both the anti-Semitic insults and the violation of Monument for Murdered Jews in Vilnius. It is also worth noting that 53 publications reported on the remembrance of Chiune Sugihara, who served as the vice-consul of Japan in Lithuania at the time of the Second World War.
There has been a noticeable increase in positive publications, especially if the decrease of the overall number of publications is taken into account. There are several reasons for that: there have been articles speaking out about Lithuanian citizens of Jewish descent who have contributed to the independence of Lithuania („Gynę savo pažadėtąją žemę“, Panevėžio balsas; „Paroda už Lietuvos laisvę kovojusiems žydams“, Šiaulių kraštas), as well as portraying Litvaks in the regional press and fighting against people dressing up as Jews during the national festival called Užgavėnės.
Negative publications are often about the history of Lithuanian Jews, generalizing the entire nation as having done a crime against Lithuanians and stressing these crimes in order to prove that the nation is guilty (for example, „Tiesa (nieko nenutylint) apie lietuvių ir žydų santykius“, Lietuvos aidas). A third of negative publications comprised of pieces about Užgavėnės, in which the participants dressed as Jews were described as doing extremely stereotypical actions.
Meanwhile Judaism was mentioned in 29 publications, mainly in other religious or historical contexts.
245 publications mentioning Romani people in the Lithuanian media were found in February (145 more compared to January). Romani people were the main subject in 40 of these pieces. This sudden increase in publications is directly related to the Lithuanian festival Užgavėnės, during which the participants are still keen on dressing up as caricatures of the Romani people.
Keyword „Romani“ was used 92 times, and „Gypsy“ (Čigonas) 194 times. Both terms can be found in 41 publications, mostly in pieces dedicated to the state of Romani people in Lithuania where representatives of the Romani community are quoted. Nevertheless, in 10 out of them „Romani“ and „Gypsy“ (Čigonas) are used interchangeably, rarely in a positive context (especially discussing Vilnius tabor and crime).
The rise of „Gypsy“ (Čigonas) itself (both relatively to the term “Romani” and compared to last month) can also be explained by Užgavėnės, since most of the articles about the festival use this term.
Romani people were cited in 23 publications, mostly related to the book that painted the Panevėžys Romani community in a negative light. This is an additional increase compared to the last two months.
It is also worth mentioning that the number of publications that are exclusively about the Romani community is growing. The representatives of the community have a chance to speak out and change society‘s views on them („Nesame iš kitos planetos“, Šiaulių kraštas; „Dėl patyčių brolį praradusi romė Rasma: „O tėvai dar iki šiol vaikus gąsdina čigonais“, 15min.lt) and dispel the myth that Romanis do not care about the hurtful traditions of Užgavėnės („Šventinė tradicija ar patyčios? Piktinasi „žydukų“ ir „čigonų“ personažais“, tv3.lt).
Despite the rise of positive publications, a huge increase can also be seen in the number of negative publications. Most of them are related to Užgavėnės (59 publications), and you can find such quotes as:
“A gypsy, having forgotten her spells, kept complaining about bad men and her widowhood and peskily asking for pittance for a black baby and two grown girls who have been wandering around with her.”  (Anyksta.lt)
The usual negative stereotypes, relating the Romani community to a tendency of crime (for example, „Klaipėdos policija nutvėrė seną „pažįstamą“: kišenvagis tykodavo išmaniųjų telefonų“, Kauno.diena.lt) or choosing to stress the ethnicity of the suspect as their main distinguishing feature („Kalvariškę apvogė romė“, Žemaitis) were also present this month.
Media monitoring is part of the project “Inclusion of members of ethnic minorities in Labour Market” funded by the European Social Fund.