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From the Tatar museum
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Lithuania‘s security services saw a new threat to this year’s Lithuania‘s security. It is stated that Russia seeks to affect Lithuanian Tatar communities so they would become loyal to Kremlin. Lithuanian Tatars are seeing this threat as „nonsense“.

State Security Department (VSD) with the Second operational service department in the assessment of Lithuania‘s security threats stated that Russia is executing „fellow countryman policy“, which is a way to encourage other ethnic communities to support the regime of Kremlin. Firstly, they are trying to affect Russians, Polish and Ukrainians who live abroad. This year Russian impact on Tatars was mentioned. In the assessment of threats it was stated that Russia seeks to achieve a positive view from Tatars to the annexation of Crimea. It was also highlighted that a part of Lithuanian Tatars are taking part in Russia’s „fellow countryman policy”.

Tatars are denying the threats

In the district of Trakai, the leader of Tatar community Jelena Tarčuk said that these talks are not justified. Also, it offend the community. “This is nonsense. I think that it offends Tatars. However, I try to stay away from politics. I feel safe in Lithuania, I like everything and no one is recruiting us so far. At least I was not affected and did not hear anything from other members of community that would have some sort of ties to Russia. Talks like these are increasing hostility. I think that this is being done without justification. Maybe someone wants us and Lithuanians to have a falling out. I cannot imagine any reason for that” – said the representative of Tatars in Trakai.

J. Tarčuk also said that Tatars feel at home in Lithuania and has never felt any tensions up to this point.

Sociologist: Tatars – one of the most loyal to Lithuania

Boguslavas Gruževskis, a professor in the Military Academy, said that Tatars are usually loyal to Lithuania and the intelligence in Lithuania could have been more confidential in expressing the threat of Russia’s influence to them.

“Tatars are one of the most loyal to the national interests of Lithuania. This has been like that for a long time. During the period of Movement (Sąjūdis), many Tatars were pro-Lithuanian. If intelligence has noticed something suspicious, it would have been better to communicate with Tatars themselves, warn leaders of the community, instead of announce in the press and throw accusations for the whole community. It was not professional. It was not right to do this in public about those who serve to ensure Lithuania’s stability and security” – said Professor B. Gruževskis.
According t the Sociologist, the attention of the intelligence for national communities could result in a negative view for non-nationals. However, the Professor states that there is a need to inform about specific threats.

B. Gruževskis also said that that there is not enough attention for domestic threats in the security threat report: poverty, inequality, poor social security and social security systems. “We only see foreign threats but people will live better when they lose interest in propaganda from the outside. We have to admit that one of the main security threats is out domestic problems and social situation” said the professor.

Political scientist: Russia is really working with national communities

Political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas does not see nu national discontent in the statements of intelligence and said that Lithuanian citizens have a right to know about possible threats.
“It has been clear long ago that Russian intelligence is working with representatives from national communities in Lithuania and abroad. This is a typical audience, which in one way or another could be used for intelligence work. It was done not just for a year an included not only Russians but Polish and other communities as well. This time Tatars were mentioned but it does not separate them from others. They only say that Tatars are more vulnerable. I believe that it is just a warning for not only Tatars but Lithuanians as well” stated T. Janeliūnas.

This year’s threat report – not as harsh

The political scientist states that in comparison to before, this year’s threat assessment is more careful. “This year’s report in not as harsh, there are less specific details. They avoid mentioning certain people, except for one Russian intelligence officer who works with Kaliningrad. There are a few names regarding informational security. However, the report is more general than last year. On the other hand, the style is the same and it is not a bad thing. Main threats are mentioned in general alongside a few examples. It is made more related for the public so they would be informed about the main threats” said T. Janeliūnas.

According to him, all states have similar documents about threat assessment, which are prepared using similar methods.