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Illegal Migration is a Target of Disinformation

Illegal Migration is a Target of Disinformation

The illegal breaching of the state border of the Republic of Lithuanian with Belarus, state governance, Lithuania's bilateral relations with China and Belarus, the human rights situation in the country were the main targets, which in received the highest disinformation flow.

Last month, the analysts of the Strategic Communication Department of the Lithuanian Armed Forces identified a total of 433 unique cases with the features of the negative information activity. Compared to July this year, the total number of such cases have insignificantly decreased (a total of 485 cases were recorded in July), however the intensity of disinformation remained high.

Hostile information pressure against Lithuania's actions to tackle the flow of illegal migration across the Lithuanian-Belarusian border was actively pursued in August. Information channels related to the A. Lukashenko and Kremlin regimes have escalated disinformation narratives, spread lies, published misleading content, manipulated facts and interpretations of events, and republished the views of "experts" in favor of the Russian and Belarusian regimes. The aim was to form the image of Lithuania as a non-democratic state, where human rights are violated stating that Lithuania allegedly uses "fascist methods" against persons crossing the state border illegally.

In August 15 – 21, the narrative of the brutal treatment of the illegal migrants in Lithuania has been disseminated in all Belarusian state media channels. Misleading information and lies were published on the official websites of the Belarusian State Border Committee and the State Border Committee.

On August 10, the protest rally at the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (Seimas), which ended in riots, was actively exploited by the channels of the hostile information and was one of the most escalated topics. Two main false narratives prevailed - Lithuania is an undemocratic state and human rights are systematically violated here, and the country's government allegedly serves only its own interests and not the interests of the state's citizens. The second dominant narrative was related to the decisions of Lithuanian institutions in order to control the Covid-19 virus pandemic. It has been said that by failing to ensure a smooth vaccination process, the country's authorities take the repressive actions.

Another topic, which was highly escalated in August - Lithuania's bilateral relations with China. On July 20, following the Lithuania’s official announcement that it will open the Taiwanese diplomatic mission in Vilnius, the Russian and Chinese information channels have selectively provided information on possible economic loss to Lithuania and its foreign policy the whole month of August. Lithuania’s business was threatened to have the consequences for allegedly interfering into China's internal affairs and trying to harm its foreign policy. The narrative that Lithuania is a supposedly insignificant state, and its foreign policy is dictated by the interests of the Unites States of America and Lithuania’s wish to please the US was the most frequently repeated.

The topics of Lithuania's membership in NATO and NATO as an aggressive Alliance provoking Russia and Belarus by its actions at their border have also continued in August.  The Russian-Belarusian military exercises Zapad 2021, which in fact are of the offensive nature, have been called the response to NATO's "aggressive" actions on their borders.