Ušackas: TV bans will not solve the Russian propaganda problem (updated)

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television 2“Propaganda must be dealt with through building civic maturity and creating alternatives. Banning broadcasts of Russian TV channels will not solve the problem,” said Vygaudas Ušackas, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Russia .

“Bans do not solve the problem but also question the civic maturity of a society and the expression of opinions,” the former foreign minister told BNS.

“It is difficult to stop propaganda coming from the outside, it needs to be dealt with intellectually and politically. And not only during elections,” Usackas said.

He believes sanctions should be an last-ditch measure and mentioned as an example the existingt European Union travel ban for Russian journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, named as one of the main figures behind the state propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian troops in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania has recently banned broadcasts of Russian TV channels NTV Mir and RTR Planeta for inciting military sentiments and discord among nations and also justifying Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Latvia has banned RTR Planeta as well. Estonia has not taken any such measures.

Seeking re-election, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said recently that “constant disinformation, provocation and hostile propaganda have become a threat to the state’s security.”  She called for strengthening the national broadcaster National Radio and Television with increased funding.

“In today’s world, there’s competition for the audience for political or commercial goals, therefore, it would be a good idea to set up a joint Baltic Russian-language TV channel,” Ušackas underlined.

“We are a democratic country where a variety of opinions is tolerated under the existing legal norms. Therefore, it seems to me much more meaningful to establish a Baltic Russian-language channel, perhaps even together or through cooperation, for example, with Dozhd TV… and Russian journalists,” the Lithuanian diplomat said.

“Freedom is not something to be taken for granted. One can manipulate the media. So civic maturity, a critical way of thinking and patriotism are the best long-term investments,” Ušackas said.

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