Famous Lithuanian journalist and TV host Andrius Tapinas' recent Freedom Picnic event was a great success, with thousands of attendees and several high-level participants, like singer Andrius Mamontovas, commentator Algis Ramanauskas, and even President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Not everyone got to attend, however.
© DELFI

Russian newspaper Zvezda claims that one of its reporters received a snub from the event's organizers. The channel, which is considered by many to be a Russian propaganda outlet, received a letter from Mindaugas Aušra when asking for accreditation to attend the event. Aušra, who was responsible for the event's communication, invited the newspaper to a seminar called “How to cover news objectively and not be lying bastards.”

In the letter to Zvezda, Aušra wrote; “Many thanks for your interest in "Laisvės piknikas", we would be happy to provide you all information as well as accreditation to film the event. But there is a slight problem - we feel that spirit of freedom is incompatible with government controlled propaganda, warmongering and justifying the annexation the territory of the sovereign country, don't you agree? Unfortunately, your TV channel does exactly that.”

“However, we have a solution to this problem,” the letter continues. “On Monday, in Vilnius we shall be holding crash course "How to cover news objectively and not be lying bastards". Upon completion of this course we will happily supply the attendants with an accreditation to "Laisvės piknikas" and all possible help.”

The description of the tongue-in-cheek event invited “journalists in Russian, Turkmenistan and North Korea state media” to seminars like “Cognitive dissonance: how to tell the truth without awakening zombies” and “Let’s make Russian news great again.”

The price of the “seminar” being offered in the letter was €2,500. After finding the seminar's event on Facebook with 176 members, the Russian newspaper claimed that Tapinas had earned more than €500,000 from journalists – from an event that never occurred.

In a video about the incident, a Zvezda reporter commented; “Today, we discovered the price of objective journalism in Lithuania.”

A screenshot from Zvezda TV's website
A screenshot from Zvezda TV's website
© Lithuania Tribune
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