Putin and children in Russia
© AFP / Scanpix

At the general meeting between Education and Culture Committees which happened on Wednesday at the Parliament the issue of propaganda techniques in education and culture was discussed.

Laurynas Kasčiūnas, who used to be the manager of Eastern European Studies Centre and current Member of Parliament (MP) doesn't hide: when investigating Russian propaganda in Lithuania was seen that in some regions, the Russian President Vladimir Putin is so popular that he could get into the second round of Presidential elections in Lithuania.

"There were a lot of questions, how do you assess President Vladimir Putin, President Dalia Grybauskaitė, other people. Well, you know the answers to that because in some areas of Lithuania V. Putin could get into the second round of Presidential elections. It's tragically laughable but this situation has to be noticed" he said.

According to L. Kasčiūnas, if we have been calming ourselves for more than 20 years that the situation in Lithuania is not as bad as, then in Latvia, Estonia, everything is not as simple as it seems.

"The existence on a lower step in ethnic communities has an important link to pro-Kremlin, geopolitical orientation. To drag the people out of poverty, strengthen the south east region of Lithuania should be the priority" explained the politician.

Propaganda works through TV

Linas Kojala, who is the director of the East European Studies Centre, drew the attention to the fact that a persons' age, place of residence and the environment has no impact on the formation of provisions. His and his colleagues conducted the study, which showed that our citizens are affected by propaganda through television.

"What is much more important is not his personal profile but the way that he evaluates the interaction of Lithuanian definition and the Soviet era" said he.

For example, during the crisis, more than 40 percent of citizens admitted that they feel nostalgic when they remember the Soviet times. Currently, this number is just over 20 percent.

"There are two solutions to solve this: either suspend the TV channels or create new channels specifically for ethnic minorities. It's true, pro-Russian mind-set is not definitely caused by watching Russian channels. Also, the creation of specific channels, as we see from the example of Estonia, is a process that is expensive and time-consuming" said he.

To Belarus - five times, but never been to the tower of television

Vytautas Keršanskas, who is an analyst of Eastern European Studies at the Centre for Policy Analysis and Research Department, assured that the 4 steps that were created can solve the problem. For example, to take measures in combating the main statements, myths that are spread in Lithuania, to deny and at the same time form a narrative of their own.

"First, the policy and actions have to be a coordinated. It is necessary to discuss: in what form, the Information Policy Council, should identify the challenges and develop their goals" explained V. Keršanskas, while adding that this important Lithuanian people and academics should belong to this council.

He also proposed to supplement the Public Information Act, which defines terms such as propaganda, to reduce the value added tax on publishing.

"When you drive for 20 kilometres southeast of Vilnius to a small school, teachers say that children have been 5 times to Belarus to shop, but did not visit the tower of television " - V. Keršanskas gave an example to demonstrate the problem.

Starts from educating on media literacy

"There's a lot of attention given to support and develop of schools in south-eastern Lithuania. I don't see radical changes in this area" said Jurgita Petrauskienė, who is the Minister of Education and Science.

According to her, resistance to direct propaganda is developed through media literacy a program that needs to expand. It is also proposed to get together with other Ministries to solve this problem.

"Each individual chooses what to watch. Without a doubt, the Ministry of Education directly don't formulate the programs or the content of national and commercial television. Today, I don't think that tomorrow we will have a miracle, when something changes in the mass media, there has to be a solution" she said.

Will develop critical thinking

Liana Ruokytė-Johnsson, who is the Minister of Culture, admitted that we don't use all of the capabilities of visual information. We could create more patriotic films.

"A cooperation on critical thinking of youth is planned with the Ministry of Education and Science. It will be done not only through cinema but also literature, dance and other types of art that can develop a socially and civically active person" said she.

L. Ruokytė-Jonsson also said that there are efforts to create a working model on how to integrate work into information and media literacy.

"It is not the law that is in the way but the lack of will and cooperation" said Linas Kontrimas, who is a specialist for the Minister of Public Relations.

According to him, alongside the Ministry of Culture an institution could appear in the third quarter of next year or even this year. It could create products on the subject or implement research, which are continuous, multi-layered and deep.

Were surprised that there is no libraries in the kindergarten: a disservice

"It is clear that the challenges will vary depending on how our standard of life is changing. If you look at Europe, the centrifugal force is increasing, it works differently, it is perhaps supported by the Russian propaganda because they have a new target. However, the overall situation in Eastern Europe is similar, and we need to look at the decisions that are made in other countries" summed up the discussion Ramūnas Karbauskis, who is the chairman of the Culture Committee.

According to him, it's useless to talk without purpose, that something will be integrated into something.

"It's a disservice to our children if we won't have a decision soon" said R. Karbauskis.

He also noticed that we have a lot of problems. For example, there are no libraries in the kindergartens in our country, although small children like and do want to read.

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