Soviet rubles
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Back in the spring of 2000, Lithuania adopted a law obliging to ask Russia to compensate the damages done during 1940-1990 period Soviet occupation and it was estimated to about 23 billion Euros. Moscow was furious and said that this is an insult and can't forget it for 17 years. The most recent act of resentment when Russia estimated an impressive bill for Lithuania for the Soviet times.

"The bill for occupation: Russia is capable of instantly destroying Lithuanian economy" - is the title of a recent article which appeared in regular Russian portal "New Inform.com."

The article instantly spread to other portals in Russia, including another "Južnyj Federalna ", which was recently signed by Irina Tiukačiova with negative opinion on Lithuania. By the way, the original title of the article was even sharper: " Moscow's response to Vilnius by threatens complete destruction: Lithuania cannot handle this".

The article allegedly responds to the law adopted in 2000 in the Lithuanian Parliament requiring the Government to negotiate with Moscow on 1940-1990 Soviet occupation for compensation for the caused damages. In 1995 the commission estimated it at 80 billion Litas (23 billion Euros).

In 1992 referendum to ask for a compensation for damages 90 percent of Lithuanian citizens' gave their opinion. But Russia never negotiated on this and did not recognize the debt or occupation of Lithuania.

Lithuania asked for tens of billions of debt

In an article of "New Inform.com" the same narratives are presented, that Russia doesn't agree with Lithuanian estimates and specific accusations to Vilnius appear.

"The political demagoguery about "the Soviet occupation" is usual form the Baltic states. However, according document of the Russian State Duma it is obvious who and how much owes "- writes "New Inform.com."

The article states that before joining the Soviet Union, Lithuania was just a small agrarian state where 74 per cent of the population lived in the small regions, and only 7 percent worked in industrial companies, which allegedly made simple equipment and production for limited use.

Of course, it fails to write that Lithuanian military aviation had aircrafts, which they built themselves, and the country was one of the most modern factories of ammunition in Europe. It also fails to mention that the Baltic occupation happened after Moscow signed the Ribbentrop and Molotov, which divides Eastern Europe between the two allies - the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

"At that time industrial production level in Lithuania was behind the Soviet Union three times and by the quality of life was one of the worst in Europe" the article states.

Ironically, when we compare Lithuania's accession to the European Union with the 1941 Nazi occupation, which is called "the first example of European integration," it states that the damage by Adolf Hitler is 38 billion dollars.

"At that time because of the Soviet Union's efforts the state was restored, and rejected the consequences of a fascist Europe. So from 1940 to 1990, Lithuania more than 65 billion dollars in investments were given to Lithuania. Here we have to add that during the time in the USSR, the Soviet Republic had access to all the resources in Soviet Union, and used them for about 72 billion dollars. This helped the country to recover and rapidly develop the economy" states the article.

The article also estimated that the USSR gave additional 35 billion dollars in investment, and many of today's Lithuanian industrial facilities were created by the Soviet Union.

"Now these objects are valued at 6.3 billion dollars. So, it's obvious that Lithuanian claims for compensation for the "Soviet occupation" may backfire. The input of Soviet republics to the contribution of the development of the country is ahead economic capabilities of Lithuanian and Russia, as the legal successor of the USSR, logically tries to claim the money and other deposits with a percentage of their investments in Lithuania.

If this scenario becomes real then Vilnius with the state budget of 41 billion Euros will instantly go bankrupt. And Russia be able to destroy its economy" stated the article.

Also, the calculations in this article appeared in March in another Kremlin-funded project, the website "rubaltic.ru". This article may also be based on the same document.

The mystical document, which is allegedly prepared by the State Duma, wasn't found. The only document is the 2002 "Lithuania debt to Russia".

It's true that it doesn't state a specific amount, while the Lithuanian demands for compensation for the occupation damages, they get territorial claims to Vilnius - Lithuania should be grateful to Moscow, and if they will continue to demand for a compensation, they must "return" Klaipeda and Vilnius to Russia.

It's based on delusions

Most of the article is based on a supposed article of a deputy in the Department for Europe Department I. V. Galaktionov in "Sovietskaya Rosyja. The article was written more than 7 years ago, but in March of this year it was again spread by "rubaltic.ru" and the end of April began to spread from "NewInform.com". Now the department said that a person by this name is not working there anymore.

In the original article, Lithuanian occupation, expressed is denied, there are financial claims to Vilnius, and they again state the Moscow's statement on 1991 January 13 events "they fired at their own".

According to I. V. Galaktionov, which is supposedly based on statements of a few people who were at the TV tower, 13 innocent civilians were killed by "the Movement" mercenaries who were well armed."

"Our guys were armed with light weapons fake rounds, and snipers were on the rooftops. They were well armed 26 firearms, 40 boxes of ammunition and two anti-aircraft defence complexes "Strela - 1" were found in the TV tower.

Meanwhile, the crowd of several thousand young people was drunk, aggressive and tried to provoke, they were armed with sticks, stones are injured about 70 of our soldiers, sergeants and officers, "- the author described the events of January 13.

The fact that there were thousands of witnesses, of which hundreds were injured in the Soviet military, shooting at people and crushing them with tanks and armoured vehicles, is imagined according to the author.

Source of the lie - known trolls from the Savuškin street

Nerijus Maliukevičiaus, lecturer at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, said the fact that the story that was dragged and spread in 2010 might seem strange.

"It's a prepared document that is used on many occasions and for Duma, and without it" said N. Maliukevičius. Arvydas Anušauskas, MP and historian, agreed, who initially speculated that the defamatory and fake information about Lithuania is spread on May 9th, which is almost holy to many Russians, known as Victory Day.

Unlike in most European countries, the Moscow the capitulation of Germany during World War II celebrates not on May 8 minutes, but the next one.

When this occasion is near, Russia's frequently provokes and the Kremlin responds to the refusal of European countries, especially the Baltic States, to "celebrate" the Russian "Victory Day", which is commemorated by a military parade in Moscow.

"When Russia plans the celebrations, it is always adds propaganda and counter-propaganda plans. Although the actual holiday isn't interesting abroad" said the MP.

"Traditional propaganda templates, according to which films were created, are now moved to the virtual space. Now these false narratives are spread by trolls and their controlled information resources. The only new thing here is technology, not the Kremlin's messages full of propaganda" said N. Maliukevičius.

It's true, "NewInform", which describes itself as "analytical", along with several other similar sites like "Politpazl", "Inforeaktor", "PolitEkspert" belong to the "patriotic holding"in Russia, which unites the information websites that spread Kremlin-friendly messages, which in turn are closely supervised by the Russian censorship tool service – "Roskomnadzor".

Also, even in 2015 it was suspected that the mentioned sites are hiding in St. Petersburg, Savuškin street building 55. There the so-called "trolls" Farm resides, an army of Kremlin hired commentators that creates fake stories, fake profiles on social networks and gets in debates even the goal is to create an opinion that is favourable to Russia.

Lithuania - not the USSR dependent but a donor

Meanwhile, A. Anušauskas thinks that growing Baltic unity and raising the question of compensation encouraged Russian trolls to comment on the Lithuanian financial claims.

"It's a sensitive topic to them. After all, Russia has always helped the people and now they consider them occupants. Here are the "figures". It's especially important to respond to the questions that are raised by scientists in Baltic States. A Latvian scientist recently published data on resource extraction in the Baltic countries" said A. Anušauskas.

Last year, Gatis Kruminis, a rector at Latvia Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, published a study which showed that Lithuania, like other countries, were not the dependents of the USSR but the donors.

G. Kruminis emphasized that one third of the Lithuanian national budget for the first ten years of occupation was given to the military structures which fought with the Lithuanian guerrilla.

"All of the Soviet period literature talks about the fact that a huge aid has been provided from the central Soviet budget. However, the data, which I found about Lithuania, and it's not much, but 5-6 per cent subsidised the budget of the USSR "- says G. Kruminis.

He, together with a panel of experts formed by the Latvian government, on Tuesday in Vilnius presented the calculation method and historical financial documents on the Soviet occupation damages. Scientists estimate that in 1946-1990, Latvia gave about 18 percent of their national budget revenues or 15.9 billion rubles, which was calculated on the 1961 rubble rate, to the USSR. This year was chosen as the starting point of currency stability.

According to G. Kruminis, in Lithuania these calculations haven't been done yet since it would require more information. According to experts, the difference between the Baltic and other states of the USSR national budgets, the difference of collected revenues and expenses is a few percent. According to experts, some of it these grants later were returned to the national budgets.

In the archives of Latvia and Lithuania, the 1946-1949 documents, which were collected by the scientists, show that about 30 per cent of the Lithuanian budget was spent on army and national security. G. Kruminis is sure that this technique could be useful in calculating the damages done to Lithuania during the occupation.

"However, the compensation from the USSR is secondary to me. The most important thing is to break those myths (...), the disinformation, which is spread" said he.

Birutė Burauskaitė , director of the Genocide and Resistance Centre, agrees with the Latvian scientist and reminded that she could add to the calculations of 2000, according to which the damage of occupation is around 80 billion Litas (20 billion US dollars, at the rate of that time).

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