Spilnota Detector Media

Fake Children of Ukrainian refugees are allegedly taken away by Lithuanian guardianship authorities for “washing dishes”

Propagandists are distributing a video on social networks in which police allegedly forcibly take a child from his parents. In addition, there were reports that it supposedly depicts a Ukrainian family of refugees in Lithuania, and the police are taking away the children due to “improper upbringing”. “It is known that such cases occur not only with Ukrainians, but also with Belarusian families who seek asylum in the countries of the European Union”, the publications note. Propagandists also claim that in the Baltic countries, justice authorities “remove children from their families for washing dishes or caring for younger brothers and sisters”. However, this is not true.

Specialists from the StopFake project drew attention to this case. They discovered information from the Lithuanian news portal Lrytas.lt that the incident in the video occurred in September 2023. The child's parents divorced and the court ruled that the child should live with his father. Despite this decision, the mother and child went into hiding, forcing social security authorities to intervene with the help of the police. The director of the State Service for the Protection of Child Rights and Adoption, Ilma Skuodene, in a comment for lrytas.lt, said that the video recorded a particularly difficult process that social workers have to carry out.

Although the procedure was legal, the actions of social services and the police attracted criticism. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda noted that social services lack a “sincere, non-bureaucratic approach to child care”. In his post on Facebook, he emphasized that the actions of the services should not traumatize the child, but should ensure his interests. Later, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children's Rights found that the social workers who separated the child from his mother in Palanga acted inappropriately and unprofessionally, which could have resulted in negative experiences, stress and fear.

Propagandists spread such fakes to discredit Ukraine’s Western partners and Ukrainian refugees, as well as to cause panic.

Manipulation Ukrainians are allegedly buying cars en masse with money raised by Lithuanians

From the very beginning of the charity campaign of the Lithuanian public broadcaster Radarom, propagandists in the Lithuanian segment of social networks began to spread information that the funds donated to Ukrainians did not bring any benefit after all. One of the most widespread reports in Lithuania claims that the purchase and sale of cars, especially premium ones, in Ukraine have increased significantly since the start of the war, which means that the warring country is trading on the support it has received. At the same time, they refer to statistics from Ukravtoprom. However, this is not true.

Lithuanian fact-checkers for the 15min.lt project drew attention to this. They found out that propagandists are silent about the fact that the growth of the automobile market began with the beginning of the war, when it was significantly depressed. It is also not mentioned that as many as a third of new cars were purchased by companies. According to Ukravtoprom, in 2023, almost 61 thousand units of new passenger cars were sold in Ukraine (most of which were purchased by companies) worth more than 105.5 billion hryvnia (about 2.5 billion euros). This is 1.6 times more than in 2022, when Ukrainians purchased 37,900 new cars, the lowest since the beginning of the century. When the war began, many off-road vehicles were purchased. According to these data, 103.25 thousand new cars were sold in 2021, and 37.89 thousand new cars were sold in 2022. Last year this figure rose to 75.99 thousand, and this year it is expected to increase to 86 thousand. Thus, neither last nor this year the same level as before the war is expected.

Ukrainian public figure in Lithuania Andrii Tapin also added that in Ukraine in 2023 there will be one new car for every 606 inhabitants. Last year, 31,000 new passenger cars were registered in Lithuania, or 1 car per 90 inhabitants. The difference is about 7 times.

Propagandists spread such disinformation to discredit Ukrainians and reinforce their “corrupt Ukraine” narrative. All this is so that foreigners stop supporting Ukraine.

Manipulation Lithuania will introduce a rain tax due to the country's spending on defense and support for Ukraine

Pro-Russian resources began to disseminate information that the Lithuanian authorities are planning to introduce a “rain tax”, the reason for which was “exorbitant expenses” on the country’s defense and the supply of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine. They say that the Lithuanian government no longer knows where to look for additional resources to cover the country’s expenses, so it resorts to innovative methods. This is manipulation.

This case was processed by fact-checkers from the Center for Countering Disinformation. They found out that in some Lithuanian counties there is indeed a rain tax, although it is not related to the war in Ukraine. For example, in Alytus, city residents have been paying it since 1996. It is worth noting that the tax is levied only on residents of private houses and provided that precipitation fell on their territory and entered the general runoff. It turns out that the tax is not really for rain, but for the treatment of rainwater by wastewater treatment plants.

Russian disinformation in this case aims to undermine Lithuanians’ trust in their government, encourage them to boycott financial assistance to Ukraine, and generally weaken international support for our country. One of the key messages of propagandists here is that the internal problems of the state have not been resolved in Lithuania and, for example, school teachers periodically go on strike due to low salaries, and the authorities are indifferent to this - they are thinking about Ukraine.

Fake Poland and Lithuania approved a plan to annex the western part of Ukraine

This information was disseminated by the propaganda media. Reports say that Poland and Lithuania recently secretly approved a plan to annex the western part of Ukraine. Like, the countries are agreeing to seize part of Ukraine and are preparing for an offensive. It's a lie.

The fact-checkers of the EU vs Disinfo project drew attention to the case, explaining that in January 2023 the presidents of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine signed a joint statement supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And there is no “approved” annexation plan. This is a propaganda stunt. And the fact-checkers emphasized that all the messages about the “capture” of some part of Ukraine by Western states are conspiracy theories. After all, the authors of the fake do not give specific examples and facts.

By spreading such fakes, propagandists are trying to distort reality and show that Ukraine's strategic partners really want to seize its territories or at least harm the state.

Manipulation Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament is outraged that God is helping Russia

In the Russian propaganda media and the Russian segment of Facebook, as well as in Georgian and Norwegian ones, information is being disseminated that the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, allegedly was indignant at “God's help in achieving Russia's goals”. It is noted that the speaker spoke during the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople to Vilnius. This is manipulation.

The journalists of the 15min project drew attention to the case. The Russian propaganda used manipulative headlines, and quoted in the text without reference to the source. On March 22, during a meeting with Bartholomew I, the leader of the parliament really spoke about God, but in slightly different words: “In Vilnius, the word of God was spread by love, not by the sword. Therefore, we, the inhabitants of Vilnius and the descendants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, consider it completely unacceptable that the imperialist goals of the Kremlin regime are disguised as the will of God”. That is, Čmilytė-Nielsen meant that the Kremlin's policy is covered by God, but she was not angry that he was helping Russia.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to create a religious conflict, to discredit the Orthodox Church and the authorities of Lithuania. Previously, Detector Media explained the message, which said that Ukrainians discredit Orthodoxy because they separated from the Moscow Patriarchate.

Fake Defense Ministers of Ukraine and Lithuania divide the territory of Ukraine between neighboring states

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The reports say that the ministers of defense of Ukraine and Lithuania divide the territory of Ukraine between neighboring states - Hungary, Romania and Poland. As proof, the authors add to the publication a photo where, supposedly, flags of other countries are located on a large map of Ukraine. It's fake.

The case was examined by the VoxCheck fact checkers, who determined that the photo was edited in a special editor. There were no cards in the original photo. Using a reverse image search on Google Lens, fact-checkers discovered that the photo was taken during a visit by the Lithuanian Defense Minister to Kharkiv. The minister tweeted a photo from Kharkiv, one of them with Oleksii Reznikov. The Minister of Defense of Lithuania signed the flag, there are no maps of Ukraine and the division of its territories between neighboring states. On a fake photo, for example, signs of editing are visible in several places, the lines of the “map” are unequal.

Fake An international special corps will be created in Poland to be sent to the war in Ukraine

Such information was disseminated in Russian propaganda media and the Russian segment of social networks. Like, in Poland they are allegedly creating a special Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian corps (LITPOLUKRCORPS) to send it to Ukraine. Propaganda refers to the “Polish edition” and attached a photo showing the structure of the formation. It's fake.

The case was noticed by specialists from the StopFake project. In the photo, they noticed the sign of this “corps” belonging to the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG), created on September 19, 2014 in Warsaw. Its purpose is not related to the Russian-Ukrainian war. According to the official text of the international treaty, the brigade must “be ready to participate in international operations to be carried out on the basis of a mandate from the United Nations Security Council”. There was no talk of protecting the sovereignty of other countries, and now the brigade is not recruiting new people.

On the website of the association, a refutation of this information was published, dated April 18, 2023: “The Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade is not completed. We encourage you to use trusted and reliable sources”.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to portray Poland and Lithuania as aggressors, as if these countries could go to war at any moment. Earlier, Detector Media denied the fake that Poland is allegedly changing the law in order to send the military to Ukraine.

Disclosure Lithuanians received fake letters saying they would be sent to the front in Ukraine

Similar information appeared in the social networks of the Lithuanian segment. The reports say that Lithuanians received fake letters in the mail on behalf of the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense. The letters note that Lithuanians are allegedly recruited into the trilateral Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade named after Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi the Great Hetman, and then sent to the Ukrainian front.

The Institute of mass information drew attention to this case and explained that the department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense refutes this information. The ministry also stated that Lithuanian citizens are not called up to serve in the trilateral Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade named after Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi the Great Hetman as this international brigade operates under a separate mandate.

Unknown people use the kariuomene[.]com domain to spread false information, through which they send fake letters and convince Lithuanians that they will be sent to the front.

Manipulation Speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen accused God of “supporting Russia”

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular in the Georgian segment of Facebook. The reports say that the speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, said that God “protects the actions of the Russian authorities, and this is unacceptable”. Like, officials began to blame God “for all the troubles”. This is manipulation.

Specialists of the Myth Detector project drew attention to the case and determined that the speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania did not say such things. At the same time, the propagandists misrepresented the high-ranking official's quote, which actually said that the Kremlin presents its imperialist aspirations as the will of God, which is unacceptable. That is, the speaker means that the Russian propaganda declares a special task, the mission of the Russians. This is one of the elements of propaganda designed to manipulate the minds of Russians, who later believe that they are endowed with a “unique destiny”.

Manipulation Ukraine occupied Lithuania and other Baltic countries

Photos and videos from the Seimas of Lithuania are being circulated on social networks. They depict choristers in embroidered shirts performing the anthem of Ukraine, printed on sheets with the Ukrainian flag and coat of arms on the back. Reports say that this is evidence that Ukraine has already occupied not only Lithuania, but also other Baltic countries. This is manipulation.

In the Seimas, the anthem of Ukraine was indeed performed as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine on February 24, 2023. Fact-checkers of the Delfi project confirmed the time and place of the shooting using software. Events dedicated to the expression of solidarity with Ukraine, during which Ukrainian symbols were used, were held in many countries of the world. Therefore, this can in no way be regarded as evidence of the occupation of the Baltic countries by Ukraine. Fact-checkers note that this is not the first case of misrepresentation of information about the use of Ukrainian symbols or elements of Ukrainian culture.

Russian propaganda deliberately spreads the message about the “Ukrainization” of states that help Ukraine in order to turn their citizens against Ukrainians. Allegedly, helping Ukraine threatens to destroy their culture and identity. Earlier propagandists wrote that the Ukrainians were trying to Ukrainize Poland.

Fake Due to Ukrainian refugees in Lithuania, the number of crimes is growing

Russian propaganda in Lithuania is spreading a fake that due to the number of refugees in the country, the level of criminal offenses is growing. In general, the majority of refugees in Lithuania from Ukraine are criminals, representatives of organized crime. But this is fake.

Data on the number of crimes in Lithuania is provided by the Delfi publication: in 2021, the police recorded 42,525 cases, and in 2022 the number of criminal offenses increased to 45,710. At the same time, such fluctuations have nothing to do with war or refugees since in 2020, when there was neither war in Ukraine nor refugees in Lithuania, the Lithuanian police recorded even more crimes than in 2022 - 46,306 cases.

The article, which blamed Ukrainian refugees for the rise in crime, was published in the Russian-language edition of Baltnews, owned by the Russian state agency “MIA Siohodni” (MIA Today), which includes, among others, propaganda resources Sputnik, RT and Ukraina.ru.

Since the first days of the war, Russian propaganda has been trying to present Ukrainian refugees as criminals or terrorists, as a cultural and economic threat to the EU, in order to reduce support for Ukraine and Ukrainians. Read more about it in the Detector Media investigation.

Fake The European Parliament "found no evidence of Russian sponsorship of terrorism"

This "news" was invented by the leading media resources of Russia with reference to the member of the European Parliament from Germany, Gunnar Beck, who belongs to the pro-Russian Alternative for the Germany party.

As of August 2022, the Seimas of Lithuania recognized Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. To break the situation in the information field in their favor, Russian propagandists organized an information campaign under the general idea — they say, "the European Parliament did not find evidence of "sponsoring terrorism" by Russia," writes StopFake. The basis of this campaign was the interview of Gunnar Beck, a Member of the European Parliament from Germany, who called the declaration of the Lithuanian deputies allegedly not supported by legal evidence.

Gunnar Beck did not notice the Russian atrocities in Ukraine, because he is a representative of the pro-Russian party and believes that the reason for the war may be that "Russia cannot agree to Ukraine joining NATO", and he calls the sanctions against Russia "economic suicide" for Europe and invalid about Russia itself.