Criticising Lithuanian politicians to be punishable

Politicians in Lithuania will soon be able to press charges when they feel insulted. Since the country gained it independence it has been the rule that public figures must endure criticism and insults, but now the parliament has amended the civil code. The move endangers the freedom of the press and freedom of opinion, commentators argue, saying it harks back to Soviet times.

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15min (LT) /

Back to Soviet times

The legal amendment violates the constitutional right to criticise the government and public institutions and harks back to the Soviet dictatorship, news website 15min warns:

“This has all happened surprisingly fast. Not a month has gone by since the new governing coalition took office. And it's now a quarter of a century since people were forbidden from speaking their minds, wearing different hairstyles and taking an interest in certain things. [The Soviet censorship organ] Glavlit is making a comeback, dressed in the Lithuanian tricolour. Soon there will be no more chewing gum, no more sex and no more jeans. And we'll only listen to the radio in the kitchen. Get ready.”

Delfi (LT) /

A blatant violation of EU law

Legal expert Gintautas Bartkus also sees the amendment as a major mistake on web portal Delfi:

“Public figures must sacrifice part of their privacy and are sometimes subjected to unfair criticism because diversity of opinion is more important and a guarantee for the democratic development of a society. … They must also learn to live with the fact that false information is disseminated from time to time. Freedom of opinion needs an atmosphere of freedom without restrictions. The government and parliament have amended the law without taking key international provisions into account, including Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and various rulings by the European Court of Justice.”