Lithuanian repression of protesters against Holocaust denial

In the ongoing EU propaganda against Russia, rewriting history plays a more important part than what has been recognized so far by most people in the peace movement. This includes criminalizing and harassing people who claim that Lithuanians who today are acknowledged as official national heroes actually took active part in the Holocaust. Early March a trial will take place in Vilnius in an attempt to turn the tide.
dsc05610-768x512 kaunas 2016
Neo-Nazimarch in Kaunas 2016 described as follows at the Defending History website: ”This year’s theme was a front-of-march We Know Our Nation’s Heroes banner featuring six figures who share the following unsettling common denominator: all were alleged Nazi collaborators and/or Holocaust perpetrators (from left): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Jonas Noreika, Povilas Plechavičius, Kazys Škirpa, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis. It is as if the marchers are celebrating the murder of the 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas, the more than 95% of the over 200,000 strong Lithuanian Jewish population on the eve of the Holocaust, and the resulting “cleansing” of Lithuania’s Jewish minority.” photo Defending History

In the British semi secret Integrity Initiative project1, every possibility to wage an information war against Russia is taken into account. This includes approaching academic historians to make them write history in the NATO correct way.2 Integrity Initiative explicitly sees Lithuania as an example for the rest of Europe in its way to wage information war against Russia. The leader of Integrity Initiative in Lithuania is also so far the only alleged Integrity Initiative cluster leader that proudly presents himself as having such a position.3 The Ministry of Defense in Lithuania is also among the few funders of Integrity Initiative.4 In the leaked documents Integrity Initiative report that Lithuanian armed forces have been training the British Army’s 77th Brigade5, a brigade engaged in fighting information war on the internet:

”Lithuania has become particularly important in our network due to its expertise in dealing with Russian malign influence and disinformation. We currently have four centres of expertise in Lithuania. Since 2015 we have had a close link with the Lithuanian Armed Forces Stratcom team, currently drawing on their expertise, with the support of the Lithuanian Chief of Defence, to educate other national clusters on effective methodologies for tracking Russian activities. We initiated a link between this team and the UK 77 Bde, resulting in 77 Bde adopting the Lithuanian techniques.”6
Lithuania have long experience in rewriting history to demonise Soviet Union and using this to also defame Russia. This rewriting of history has even included to put a stamp on Jewish partisans as persons who have committed the worst war crime, participation in genocide.7 This follows the “double genocide theory” making communism equal to Nazism. According to this theory Soviet committed genocide of Lithuanians and Germany of Jews.8 To oppose this theory makes you a target for repression together with accusing Lithuanian national heroes claiming they have committed war crimes by taking part in the Holocaust. The struggle against those opposing rewriting of history has been going on for years.9 Evaldas Balčiūnas writes about 7 years of struggle against the Lithuanian state and far right extremism:

sebastian-pammer-2 2011
The protesters against the neo-Nazi March in Vilnius 2011, photo Sebastian Pammer

”Together with some friends, we tried to protest various neo-Nazi marches. I remember how in 2011, when we went to Gedimino Boulevard in central Vilnius to do exactly that, we attracted some police ‘attention’ and direct threats of physical violence. The Tolerant Youth Association’s (TYA) rainbow flag was the object of especially fiery reactions from the marchers. However, no violence took place during the march, although one of the protesters was beaten after it. Out of our wish to resist the rise of fascism, the non-formal anti-fascist organization Antifa Lietuva was born. Besides peaceful and legal action in the streets, it also ran a website. Some articles on it, such as those on neo-Nazi marches or neo-Nazis in the Lithuanian military, would receive feedback from wider society. Due to certain circumstances, the domain was registered under my name.

Then, our social activism gathered some attention from the secret services of the Republic of Lithuania. In their summary of the threats (!) to the Republic of Lithuania in 2013, published in early 2014, the State Security Department wrote about us in the chapter ‘Extremism and Terrorism’. An excerpt in translation:

‘In most European states, the phenomenon of radical anti-fascism is related to autonomist groups propagating ideologies of leftist extremism. In Lithuania and other Baltic States, this niche is taken by organizations that implement Russia’s foreign and information policy. Their members tend to use the term ‘right-wing extremism’ not only for expressions of state patriotism related to any country, but also for criticism towards Russia’s policies and for opposition to the concept of historical interpretation as suggested by Moscow.’
Suffice it to say I am a lifelong opponent of Soviet rule, Stalinist crimes, and indeed, any autocratic, dictatorial regime that stifles freedom. Protesting against the glorification of Holocaust collaborators has not the slightest connection to being “pro-Russia” in any 21st century sense. The security services are abusing current geopolitics to stifle free discussion about state policy of making heroes out of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators. As if such glorification of Nazi accomplices represents some kind of struggle against communism, the Soviet Union, or Putin’s dictatorial Russia.

Words soon turned into actions. Various state-favored personages started suing and courts would take their claims seriously and start trials, even when claims clearly had no basis or contradicted official codes of procedure. Due to police and court persecutions, the website Antifa.lt was closed down. The persecution lasted a long time and was a struggle to endure. Because of it, I lost my job and had to look for another.

evaldas-768x576
Evaldas Balčiūnas, photo Defending History

Four judges of the District Court of Vilnius City investigated — and rejected as lacking basis or contradicting the procedural requirements — claims submitted by a person who was later convicted in a case of what could be called, in my humble opinion, political murder: the original conflict that led to the killing started when a group of bar patrons, closely associated with neo-Nazis, decided that another patron was a Putin supporter. The fight was uneven: The wolfpack attacked two people, of whom one died as a result.

My trials were interesting as experience. They reminded me of the Soviet years, when the verdict would be known in advance. One judge made a verdict without my participation, without even asking me for any arguments or informing me about her decision. Another judge investigated the case for half a year, then was forced to admit that the claim contradicts the requirements of the Civil Code of Procedures and dismissed the case. The process was slowed down by failing to deliver court documents to other participants and by waiting for additional evidence, while I had to regularly travel to court hearings that would be cancelled more often than not. Every time, it was 450 kilometers there and back, and another wasted day in life.”10

Finally in 2016 Evaldas Balčiūnas was fund not guilty.11 A new struggle begun. A stone honoring Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika tops the lot on the facade of the Genocide Museum on Gedimino Boulevard in the Lithuanian capital, a stone’s throw from the nation’s parliament. ”When are we going to stop glorifying those who helped annihilate Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust?”12 This new struggle is now reaching its climax.

The website defendinghistory.com reports:

”On January 15th, 2019, at 10 AM, a momentous historic court case will unfold in Vilnius, Lithuania, scheduled to start at the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in the heart of the capital. Challenged by a call for removal of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika from the pantheon of national heroes (including street names, memorials and an inscribed stone block on the capital’s central boulevard), the state-sponsored “Genocide Center”, a bastion of far-right extremism that, in the opinion of many, does grave damage to the image of modern democratic Lithuania, will be defending Noreika using the hard-earned tax euros of the nation’s noble citizens.”13 The trial was postponed until March 5th.14

One would guess that the Lithuanian state finally would give up its struggle to defend even the most well documented Lithuanian participators in the Holocaust and stop attacking those who have exposed them. After all many years of harassment and trials had failed and finally a verdict was made. But now we are in Lithuania, a model country for the British Integrity Initiative, so the information war continues even long after the battles are lost.

On the 14th of January 2019 Andrius Kulikauskas published news showing that the state still tries to make its case. Lithuanian National Defense Ministry’s Strategic Communications Department and Public Relations’ Planning and Analysis Division published “The War for Hearts and Minds”, “Karas dėl širdžių ir protų”. In this pdf publication on page 43 a portrait of Evaldas Balčiūnas is presented together with claims questioning a well known journalist Rimvydas Valatka who was crucial in also criticizing the national hero Jonas Noreika for his participation in the Holocaust. In the struggle for hearts and minds the Ministry of Defense is replacing arguments in substance with irrelevant issues of form. The publication presents part of an influential text by Valatka showing that it is actually plagiarized from at text by the less known and by the state harassed Evaldas Balčiūnas as if that changed anything. Evaldas Balčiūnas himself had long before stated that he had nothing against. For the Lithuanian state that is of no importance, what counts is yet another irrelevant way to ty to question those criticizing national heroes who were Jew killers. In spite of loosing in the courts the state still tries to defame those that won the case and obfuscate the role some national heroes had in the Holocaust.

The odd way to continue for ever a lost information war against a writing of history seen as helpful to Russia is what Integrity Initiative sees as an ideal. There is no such thing as peace on any issue. The Lithuanian ”expertise in dealing with Russian malign influence and disinformation” is to be used also in other countries. A leaked report from Norway summarizes well what the Integrity Initiative is about and how the cooperation partners in Lithuania acts:

”Building the cooperation between the classified and unclassified world, keeping in mind that one of the main targets is the hearts and minds of the public.”15

Illustration: Chris Donnelly in a video. ”In Donnelly’s world everything is subordinated their war on peace. Every aspect of our lives; social interactions, cultural activities, religious affiliation, trade links, political activism, professional activity and so on requires servitude to this war.”16

Such an actor that arbitrarily use whatever state or non-state tools they want, secretly or openly, is a danger to democracy. But is it fair to claim any linkage between Integrity Initiate and the attempt to repress questioning national heroes? The problem here is of course the secrecy. For sure is that the Lithuanian State Security Department equates antifascist autonomists with those in favor of Russian policies and historical interpretations. It is a country were domestic leaders of the Integrity Initiative proudly declares themselves to be part of this mixing of the state apparatus, research and journalism. Paul Robinson also point at a the disturbing world view expressed by the Integrity Initiative leader Chris Donnelly were ”boundaries between war and peace have disappeared”. To Donnelly we are at war now, a kind of information war which is part of a hybrid war against an enemy with immense capacity to implement an ‘integrated strategic campaign’ involving not only the military but all aspects of state power in a coherent whole. This alleged strategic culture make Russia a particularly dangerous enemy and ”is the strategic situation we will face for the next 25 years.”17

What happens in Lithuania is a testing ground for the kind of methods the British influence operation sees as a model for other countries. It is what a militarized neoliberalism will bring us all if we do not start to confront the rewriting of history and the repression against those who stand up against authoritarian ways to silence freedom of expression.

As the Lithuanian case is central for the attempts at rewriting history in all of Europe making it clear what is at stake we recommend people to learn more. A good starting point is a video about Lithuanian struggle against those opposing the far right rewriting of history. To support the case in the trial it has been made public for free. It is a professionally made Australian documentary about the often lonesome struggle by Jewish surviving partisans and their few supporters. It ends with a seemingly successful at the European Parliament and its president Hermann Schulz. But the success was temporary and the struggle goes on.18

Activists for Peace will continue to support the last Jewish partisans and their struggle against far right rewriting of history, a rewriting of history that have received wide support as it easily is instrumentalized in the Western information war against Russia and building of peace.

Activists for peace cooperation partner Prague Spring 2 network put light on the Lithuanian rewriting efforts in its newsletter some years ago:

From PS2 newsletter nr 2 2016

Lithuania rewrites history

In Lithuania rewriting of history has gone so far that criminal investigations start against Jewish partisans for committing genocide. Especially are those Jewish partisans accused who have exposed Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust, among them Yitzhak Arad the first director for 21 years of the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. As the Soviet partisans were the only multi ethnic partisan group in Eastern Europe Jewish survivors had nowhere else to go. In Lithuanian legislation this could involve participation in genocide according to the double genocide theory which states that a genocide was not only organized against the Jews but also against the population of Lithuania by the Soviets. Thus carefully selected Jewish partisans by the juridical authorities included not only those that had exposed the Lithuanian atrocities against the Jews but also selected members of Soviet partisan groups according to ethnic criteria, that is only Jews were going to be investigated for committing genocide. As they lived abroad this was hard to realize but as an act to brand Jews and Russia/Soviet for committing genocide it was useful.

Illustration: Skärmdump ur PS2 newsletter

Footnotes

1 The official Integrity Initiative website has been closed two months after Asnonymous started to leak secret documents from the computers belonging to the project. The leader of the project, Chris Donelly explains the purpose of the project in a video after the leak: Overview of leaked documents: Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative, Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson, http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-on-the-integrity-initiative

2 ”Key journalists should be approached and somewhat ambitious also ‘academics to track and expose the Russian distortion of history.’ ” https://steigan.no/2019/01/how-integrity-initiative-and-atlantic-council-is-exposed-in-norway/

https://disinfoportal.org/author/simas-celutka

4 Co-funding: http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-on-the-integrity-initiative#co-funding

5 Carl Miller, Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine, Wired, November 14, 2018, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-the-77th-brigade-britains-information-warfare-military

6 Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative, Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson, chapter 8 Links of the Integrity Initiative with extremism in the Baltic States and Ukraine http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-on-the-integrity-initiative#links-of-the-integrity-initiative-with-extremism-in-the-baltic-states-and-ukraine

7 Blaming the Victims? State Agencies & Other Elites Defame Holocaust Survivors
http://defendinghistory.com/blaming-the-victims

8 Lithuanian Constitutional Court Further Enables “Double Genocide” http://defendinghistory.com/lithuanian-constitutional-court-enables-double-genocide/64984

http://defendinghistory.com/could-lithuanias-single-freedom-of-speech-lapse-be-on-questions-of-history/94052

10 http://defendinghistory.com/my-seven-years-in-lithuania-with-jonas-noreika-general-storm/97329

11 http://defendinghistory.com/defending-history-writer-evaldas-balciunas-is-found-not-guilty/82951

12 http://defendinghistory.com/on-the-public-monuments-to-noreika-and-a-secret-text-petition-a-strange-summers-media-circus/76763

13 http://defendinghistory.com/holocaust-trial-of-the-21st-century/96578

14 http://defendinghistory.com/noreika-trial-adjourned-to-march-5th-after-state-sponsored-genocide-center-tells-panel-of-judges-it-needs-time-to-study-the-papers/97530

15 https://steigan.no/2019/01/how-integrity-initiative-and-atlantic-council-is-exposed-in-norway

16 https://activistsforpeace.wordpress.com/2018/12/27/the-purpose-of-the-integrity-initiative-and-what-it-does-we-are-all-in-an-ongoing-war-according-to-chris-donnelly-founder-and-director-of-the-institute-for-statecraft-and-former-nato-advisor/

17 https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/bad-statecraft

18 Danny Ben-Mosche, Rewriting history https://vimeo.com/307585015

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