A regrettable new law passed by the Lithuanian parliament was signed into law by the president. Full text of the law. In English translation. The move followed adoption of a similar statute by Hungary’s new right-wing government.
The new law criminalizes debate on the Holocaust and World War II, imposing punishments that include prison sentences of up to two years for those who would argue that Soviet crimes in Lithuania did not constitute genocide (hence: upon those who would challenge the notion that ‘Soviet and Nazi crimes are equal’). The opposing view (e.g. of this website) holds that Soviet crimes in Lithuania were horrendous but did not constitute genocide (following Donskis 2009, Katz 2009 etc; see page on Soviet crimes and draft response to the Prague Declaration).
Back in March 2009, the bill’s originators made their public motivations crystal clear. As Delfi.lt reported: ’In the Lithuanian legal system, acts regarding the crimes of Soviet genocide, i.e. their denial or justification, are not criminalized, and, experts say, this is an obstacle in attempting to equate the crimes of Soviet genocide with the Nazi genocide’. Full English translation. BNS’s English summary. The sinister private motivation in threatening jail time for opinions on history, in the second decade of the 21st century, is driven by desire to eliminate alternative opinions from the arena. In 2009 and 2010, people who challenged ‘Double Genocide’ were threatened with loss of employment or dismissed from their positions, as the debate moves in some degree from Double Genocide to freedom of speech in a member state of the European Union, NATO and the OSCE.
In October 2009, Baltic Times coverage of the proposed law gloated that ‘Earlier this year, the members of the European Parliament decided that Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany were equal’ [cf. materials on the Prague Declaration page]. From start to finish, there has been little attempt to hide that red-brown equivalency lies at the heart of the motivation for the new law (equal criminalization to promote equality in historical perception), rather than any need of contemporary society.
The law’s wording is ambiguous and confusing, perhaps to thwart outrage. For example it is not clear whether denying that ‘Soviet crimes in Lithuania rise to genocide’ could make one guilty of the ‘trivialization’ clause. Two attorneys consulted by HITB concurred that such a decision would be in the subjective power of the presiding judge to decide.
Whether or not it it ever enforced by prosecutions, the law has already stifled opinions that differ from the state’s red=brown policies; these policies are a cornerstone of the ultranationalist, antisemitic Holocaust Obfuscation movement. It is moreover a crippling blow to the intellectual integrity of independent Jewish studies and Holocaust studies in the country, which are increasingly commandeered by the state’s operatives, and continue to manipulate naive foreigners who come for short pleasurable stays and are showered with hospitality and honors.
The law was passed with a vote of 68 for, 5 against and 32 abstentions. Report in English here. Full text of the law. In English translation. President Grybauskaite sees no serious problems with the new law. In English translation.
Question: Does this website violate the new law?
[updated Sept 2010]