A Furious Reaction to ‘Assessment of Threats to National Security‘

Publication of the public report on ‘Assessment of threats to national security‘ has become an ordinary procedure in Lithuania. We can remind that this report has been prepared together with   Second Operative Services Depart…

Publication of the public report on ‘Assessment of threats to national security‘ has become an ordinary procedure in Lithuania. We can remind that this report has been prepared together with   Second Operative Services Department under the Ministry of Defence and State Security Department (SSD) of the Republic of Lithuania. However, the attention in this article will be drawn not to the Assessment, but to the reaction the mentioned document caused after it was published on 4 February of the current year in the media of Russia (and not only Russia).   
The reason of such a reaction can also be easily specified. Summary of the Assessment starts with the statement that ‘the greatest risk to Lithuania is caused by foreign and security policy pursued by Russia’. This statement can hardly be called unexpected or even scandalous. After events of 2014 when the Kremlin occupied the Crimean Peninsula that belongs to Ukraine without thinking twice and was operating actively in inciting the conflict in Donbas region of the mentioned country. Not only Lithuania is talking about threats caused by Russia. In Vilnius special attention is drawn to Russia because of its geopolitical proximity and historical memory about occupation.      
On the other hand, the ‘Assessment of threats to national security’ published by Lithuania is quite a handy instrument to the Kremlin to construe its own manipulation, form negative image of the Lithuanian special services, develop the conspiracy theories, etc. Its current reaction did not become an exception.      
The strategy of debasement
In examination of the Russian propaganda to the actual ‘Assessment of threats to national security’ we can segregate several obvious tendencies. One of them is a fierce attempt to deny the assumption of threat caused by Russia. To this end various measures are used. For instance, an article of Yevgeni Krutnikov called “Fear for GRU and FSB brought money to the Lithuanian intelligence’ was published on the portal . The author of the mentioned article states that in Lithuania the army and special services compete between each other for funds. Y. Krutnikov says that special services are ostensibly disadvantaged, thus it tries to make money from ‘threats of Russia’.
The motive of the ‘exaggerated fear’ is repeated in the texts of similar character. The portal  called the publication about the discussed ‘Assessment’ as ‘the Report of fairs’.  By the way, the text published by the mentioned source, is quite neutral according to its tone, however its title indicates an express way to the reader how the discussed document should be interpreted.   
Another way that has been widely used is an attempt to mock the published ‘Assessment’ and thus devalue its significance. In the already mentioned Y. Krutnikov’s article a recommendation produced in the report has been widely discussed that citizens of Lithuania going to Russia should be cautious about using alcohol and use it in moderate amounts. Here the author of the article also rushed to remind that Lithuania is ‘a country where abuse of alcohol is the highest in Europe’ and ‘comes to a conclusion’ that it will be hard to implement this recommendation.     
‘Assessment’ also strongly affected another well-known source of propaganda in Kaliningrad – . The mentioned portal was happy to find a few words about it and rushed to use it for self-promotion and published an article ‘Lithuania got frightened of international activity of . This aspect is related to the case mentioned in the report when this portal had organized a presentation of a propagandistic publication in the building of the European Parliament in Brussels about political persecution in the Baltic States. Now, in reaction to the ‘Assessment’, the portal  called a report ‘a parade of phobias and triumph of paranoia’. The mentioned portal did not forget to remind its readers that ‘regime of Lithuania is based on Russophobia’.
Another motive that is quite often repeated in publications assigned to the ‘Assessment’, was economic, actually – relating to energy, the essence of which is actually revealed in already quoted article of Y. Krutnikov ‘Lithuania refused cheap Russian gas and replaced it with expensive American gas’.
The attention to the ‘Assessment’ in the Russian press encouraged the official reaction of the Russian Embassy. Russian media willingly quoted the position of the Embassy that the report ‘reminds of the clinical record’ and also about the statements that those who ‘refuse to operate within the framework established in the report’ in Lithuania are ‘’threatened, arrested and denounced in public’. By the way, the Embassy failed to explain what it had in mind in this case.   
 is getting hardy
Similar narratives appeared in the media of Lithuania, too. So-called ‘alternative media’ (that forms quite a marginal pseudo-journalist agenda) played a major role here and  website became the flagman of the mentioned narratives (however, it can hardly surprise somebody).   
Narratives spread in the Lithuanian media, were not original. For instance, the title of one article published by  portal sounded like that: “Report of the Lithuanian intelligence is an old song about the same’. Andris Petrinis is indicated as the author of the mentioned text. This article tries to convince that Russia is not aggressive and tried to use classical propagandistic narratives of the actions of Russia. This is how the author of the text explains actions of Russia against neighbouring states: “examples of aggression [produced in the ‘Assessment…’ – V.D.] is Georgia and Ukraine. However, in this case Russia tried to refrain from military actions against neighbour countries to the last moment and was simply made react regarding careless actions of Mikheil Saakashvili (recognized by the West, too) and anti-constitutional take-over and aggressive nationalism in Ukraine’. On the grounds of such statements the author of the article comes to a conclusion that ‘Lithuania makes false interpretation of the context’. An interesting fact is that at the end of the article  indicated that ‘the author’s opinion might be different from the position of the editorial office’.     
The portal Ldiena.lt published a similar text that ‘might be different from the position of the editorial office’. We are talking about the article ‘Special services of Lithuania recognized that their existence without Russia is not possible’. Vladimir Matvejev was indicated as the author of this text. The text uses the already recognizable narrative that ‘threat of Russia’ is used by the Lithuanian special services in order to make profit (get more funds from the budget). He tries to mock of the text of the report by saying that the ‘Assessment’ is very similar to ‘a horrible mystery written by a professional comic writer’ and says that the text of the report ‘has been written according to the old Russophobic patterns. 
Let’s go back to the overview of the publications of Sputnik and we should mention that the topic of gas here has not been left without attention. In this context we can mention the article ‘Special services are not happy about too attractive Russian liquefied natural gas’. In the other context – ‘Even in the Lithuanian market nobody can compete with Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG)’ – the comment of Alexei Grivach, Deputy Director of the National Department of Energy Safety was given. The Russian expert says about the attempt of Lithuania to secure the energy independence in the following way: ‘Meanwhile strict statements of the Lithuanian bodies about Russian gas show that they are not concerned about the amount the consumers pay for expensive gas from other states’. In other words, again he tries to bring a rhetoric security issue to the pure economic dimension.    
Announcement of the discussed report has become an option for the alternative media in Lithuania in the information domain to discredit the State Security Department. Here we can mention the text of Zigmas Vaišvila. The mentioned author has been a hero of similar report – in the report of assessment of threats of 2015 it was noted that ‘Lithuanian pro-Russian and media controlled by the Kremlin’ is fond of quoting this politician. The current text of Z. Vaišvila was published by two sources –  and Laisvas laikraštis. The interesting thing is that the same text was published under different titles. On  portal the article was called ‘Whom does Lithuanian intelligence services protect?’ and in Laisvas laikraštis – ‘SSD boasted that it defends the interests of a minor group of ‘elite’ criminals. The main idea of the mentioned text is that special services defend ‘political system’ and the power. Vakarų žinios also gave a platform to Z. Vaišvila to speak. In his interview the politician blamed special services of Lithuania of developing ‘political or even paramilitary state’.
Where does so much attention come from?
We can raise a question why ‘Assessment of threats to national security’ that Lithuania publishes every year, gets so much propagandistic reaction of the Kremlin? Another question is what this reaction tells us?
Firstly, the propaganda of the Kremlin tries to use relevant events for confirmation of its propagated narratives and the image of the distorted world. Lithuanian special services indicate Russia as a potential threat. For the Russian propaganda it is a possibility to shout out loud about ‘Russophobia’.   
Analysis of the “Assessment of threats to national security’ in the Kremlin’s propaganda also allows to vilify Lithuanian special services. An ironic and even a humble tone, an attempt to make laughs about the document, positioning of the Lithuanian special services as ‘panicking’ and ‘fearful’ on one hand and as ‘greedy’ (as if it makes profit from the threat of Russia) is a specific phenomenon of this kind.
On the other hand, to analyse propagandistic reactions of the Kremlin and narratives is useful not just to tell what information methods are used against Lithuania (here a lot is known already), but also in determining what topics are important to the Kremlin. In the mentioned texts there were quite a number of reactions to the issue of electronic visas and the aspect of gas (i.e. energy independence). We can simply presume that in this way the Kremlin’s propaganda reflects and emphasizes the topics that are actually relevant to Moscow.   
Viktor Denisenko

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Autorius: Voras Online