February 17, 2020

MEDIA MONITORING: JANUARY 2020

ETHNIC MINORITIES

Poles

447 publications related to the Polish ethnic minority were found in January; in 166 of them Poles were the main subject of the publication.

Poles were mentioned in the context of such topics as Lithuanian politics (204), history (62), or Lithuania-Poland relations (54). This month was especially notable because of a claim by the President regarding the member of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (EAPL–CFA) and the Minister of Transport and Communications Jaroslav Narkevič, in which he was accused of using his powers as a minister to employ people linked to his party; this statement sparked the subsequent accusations by the party that the President was discriminating Polish people.

15 publications cited a Polish person or a representative of the Polish community (6 in December), giving them a platform to comment on the current political situation between the Presidential Palace and EAPL–CFA, as well as while discussing Polish culture.

There were more articles that were positive or fighting against negative stereotypes than usual – 63 (34 in December); this can be explained by the aforementioned political situation, which has sparked publications in support of the Polish community. There were way less negative articles (17; 25 in December) and they were not related to the political situation, but were rather about the identity of Lithuanians or the shared history between the nations.

Russians

403 publications mentioning Russians were found in January. In 54 of them the Russian minority was the main subject.

Russians were mostly mentioned in the context of Lithuanian history (88) and Lithuanian politics (158). A large chunk of the articles on Lithuanian politics were related to an MP nominated by EAPL–CFA Irina Rozova, who is being investigated because of alleged ties with Russian diplomats, and to the subsequent considerations of impeachment. As for the historic context, the Russian minority was usually mentioned while discussing the events of January the 13th.

A Russian person or a representative of the Russian community was cited in 20 publications (4 in December), while discussing Russian culture and Orthodox Christmas Day.

Even though there were not a lot of publications that were spreading negative stereotypes against the Russians (12 out of 403), it is worth noting the reports on Lithuanian teacher A. G. Astrauskė’s detention during which she talked negatively about the policewomen who happened to be Russian. Even though media portals reported this incident neutrally, some news sites published all of her hate-filled speech about Russians („Trispalvės alėjoje sulaikyta mokytoja policijoje sukėlė tikrą skandalą: mane tampė rusė pareigūnė“).

Jews and Judaism

823 publications mentioning the Jewish ethnic minority were found in January; in 547 of them the Jewish community was the main subject. The increase in publications can be linked to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day which happens in January.

42 publications cited Jews or the representatives of the Jewish community (69 in December), mainly while discussing Holocaust and the Jewish culture and history in Lithuania. This change is due to the fact that discussions regarding Jewish assets and heritage that made up a lot of publications citing Jewish people in December were not as prominent this month.

Topics that were discussed the most in the media were the Jewish history in Lithuania (263 publications) and the Jewish history in the world (189). Most of the pieces were related to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Jewish people were also mentioned in the context of Lithuanian politics more often than usual. This is due to the President’s decision to visit Poland on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day as well as his visit to Plungė.

Most of the articles are neutral (693); and there are more positive articles than negative (108 positive, 22 negative). Compared to the month of December, the situation is considerably better (57 positive and 42 negative publications in December).

It is worth noting that there were twice as little negative publications about the Jewish community; this is because Jews were mostly discussed in the context of historic events such as the Holocaust, so the publications avoided any negative connotations. There were more people advocating for the memorialization of local Jews in regional papers than usual. This was supplemented by the President’s visit in Medsėdžiai where another tree in remembrance of Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) was planted. But Lithuanian Jews were not the only ones that were remembered – a lot of newspapers and media portals published pieces on the international “We Remember” campaign; there were a lot of regional papers reporting on the local commemorations of the campaign and citing the representatives of local Jewish communities.

Meanwhile Judaism was only mentioned in some publications about 2020 being designated as the year of Vilna Gaon as well as film screenings about the Holocaust (18 publications in total).

However, with discussions regarding Lithuanians’ participation in the Holocaust being more prominent than ever, there are a few publications instigating hateful speech against the Jewish community and painting it as having done a worse crime against the Lithuanian nation („Tiesa (nieko nenutylint) apie lietuvių ir žydų santykius“, Lietuvos aidas; „Okupantai raudonieji žydai, po 1945 metų sunaikino okupuotoje Lietuvoje virš milijono lietuvių“).

There are also a few publications taking a stance for the Jewish community („Šūviai užgauliais žodžiais“, Šiaulių kraštas).

The Romani

100 publications mentioning Romani people in the Lithuanian media were found in January. In 6 of them the Romani community was the main subject. Keywords “Romani” and “Gypsy“ (Čigonas) were both used in 54 publications. This shows that “Gypsy“ (Čigonas) has yet to leave the vocabulary of Lithuanian media outlets. 

The terms “Romani” and “Gypsy” (Čigonas) were being used interchangeably in seven publications. The one remaining publication that had both “Romani” and “Gypsy” (Čigonas) in it was discussing the usage of these terms.

Romani people were cited in 15 publications (in 7 of them they were referred to as Gypsies (Čigonai)). This is a positive increase compared to December when only one publication cited a person of Romani descent. More Romani people were given a platform because of a controversial book on Panevėžys Romani community that portrayed Romani people in a negative light. In addition to that, a representative of the Romani community was interviewed during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The usual shortage of positive articles regarding the Romani community continued this month as well: 3 positive articles were found (for example, „Menininkė V.Fiokla Kiurė: „Maistas – kūrybiškos asmenybės bruožas“, Valstiečių laikraštis), 19 negative, and 78 neutral publications (meanwhile, there were 15 positive, 41 negative, 66 neutral publications in December). The decrease in negative publications could be linked to the fact that there were plenty of publications associating Romani people with stories of criminal nature (25 percent of all publications). Prevailing negative stereotypes continue to generalize Romani people as criminals and/or someone to be afraid of.

Media monitoring is part of the project “Inclusion members of ethnic minorities in Labour Market”. Funded by the European Social Fund.



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