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OSCE slams Lithuania's sanctions against Russian TV channel over January 13 program

„Piervyj Baltijskij kanal“
BFL/15min.lt fotomontažas / „Piervyj Baltijskij kanal“
Šaltinis: BNS
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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Mijatović has expressed her concern about the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission’s decision to suspend the broadcasting of the First Baltic Channel’s (PBK) programs for three months in Lithuania after the Russian-language channel spread false information about the Soviet aggression in Lithuania on January 13, 1991.

Meanwhile Lithuanian experts reject her criticism, saying that the Russian program was aimed at distorting the historic reality.

"I call on the Commission to review the proposed measure as it undermines media pluralism," Mijatović was quoted as saying in an OSCE statement.

“Any restriction and suppression of controversial and differing views on historical events, even if based on law, could eventually affect freedom of the media," Mijatović said.

The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania decided on Wednesday to suspend the broadcasting of the First Baltic Channel's programs produced in Russia and asked Latvia to temporarily suspend the channel's license.

False facts about the Soviet aggression against Lithuania on January 13, 1991, were reported during the First Baltic Channel's broadcast "Man and Law" on October 4 and included an interview with Mikhail Golovatov, the then commander of the Alpha Group that stormed the TV Tower in Vilnius, and other people who denied the military attack.

Lithuanian political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas said the Russian program had nothing to do with a documentary and was aimed at raising doubts over the January 13 events which amounted to a crime against humanity.

"Such cases are treated very seriously in the whole of Europe and the Western world. Nobody would have any questions on how a program or a TV channel would have been treated in Germany, if it had broadcast an alleged documentary raising doubts about the Holocaust reality," the expert told BNS.

"Judging by the contents, it was an operation of a psychological character, aimed at presenting information that is not based on real facts, but on clearly distorted facts," he added.

Fourteen people were killed during an attempt by the Soviet army and special forces to take over the Vilnius TV Tower on January 13, 1991, and more than 1,000 unarmed civilians were injured.

Following the FBC's program, Lithuanian cable TV provider Cgates suspended the rebroadcasting of the channel.

Lithuanian's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday expressed its disappointment over the statements by the OSCE representative.

"We are disappointed with such statements manipulating OSCE standards in the area of media freedom. Media freedom cannot apply to targeted efforts to diminish the memory of those killed for Lithuania's freedom and deny the nation's historic memory," the ministry said in statement.

"Lithuania has always promoted media freedom and freedom of expression and strictly complied with these international standards. Media freedom was one of the priorities of the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship," the ministry said.

BNS
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