Half of the residents in southeastern Lithuania do not watch Polish TV channels as some of them choose Russian ones, a survey commissioned by Lithuania's previous government has revealed.
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Commissioned by the Transport and Communications Ministry and carried out last year, the survey showed that 46 percent of the targeted audience watched at least one of the six Polish TV channels, 23 percent said they did not watch them at all and 31 percent said they watched them no more frequently than once a month.

According to Roman Judin, an adviser at the Government Chancellery, the two latter responses could be summed up as such rare TV watching could in fact be equalled to non-watching.

Asked why they did not watch Polish TV, 39 percent of residents in southeastern Lithuania said they chose Russian TV channels instead, and 30 percent said they watched Lithuanian TV channels.

The results of this survey were on Wednesday presented during a joint sitting of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense and Committee on Culture, held to discuss the impact of disinformation and propaganda on the information space in the country's southeastern region.

"The vaccination situation shows that we do a lot of things related to ethnic minorities and their integration but we are dealing with the fact that we find it hard to achieve the result we are aiming for," Culture Minister Simonas Kairys said.

Judin also pointed out that a 2017 survey on media consumption among ethnic minority representatives showed a certain window of possibilities as 92 percent of respondents said they consumed Lithuania media and almost 82 percent used Russian media channels.

Andrius Prochorenko, an analyst from the Eastern Europe Studies Center, says the survey shows that there's no major need to reduce the amount of Russian information for ethnic communities living in Lithuania but an alternative is needed as people start changing their opinion when they have one.

Mantas Martisius, former chairman of Lithuania's media watchdog, the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania, also said members of ethnic minorities choose to watch Russian television because of the entertainment content.

"We are playing in a lower league," he said. "People want good entertainment. And they watch films, entertaining shows on Russian TV and are hooked up on other things while watching them."

According to Judin, Russian information channels are spreading certain narratives about the Baltic states to their audiences and claim that ethnic minorities there are pushed out of the public life, that education in ethnic minorities' mother-tongues is being gradually destroyed in the Baltic states, that historic memory linked to WWI and WWII is desecrated, Fascists are glorified. Meanwhile, Russia, on the other hand, defends the true traditional values, and Lithuania is a failing state that is only pursuing an anti-Russia policy enforced by the great powers and is suffering because of that.

"Another narrative is that Russia consistently defends the interests of not only Russians but also those of all ethnic minorities. Russia allows itself to adopt the role of the defender of victims, weaker people and forms its political agenda accordingly," Judin said.

In his words, the idea of Russia's alleged military, technological and economic superiority keeps on emerging on Russian media. "One should understand that Russia is superior to the West and one should know who to be friends with," he said.

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