C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000562
STATE FOR EUR/OHI, EUR/NB
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2014
TAGS: PHUM PREL SOCI LH
SUBJECT: COURT FINES EDITOR FOR DISSEMINATING ANTISEMITIC
REF: A. 04 VILNIUS 212
Â¶B. 04 VILNIUS 256
Classified By: political-economic officer Nancy Cohen
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
Â¶1. (U) A Vilnius administrative court fined Rimvydas
Valentukevicius, editor of the Russian-language edition of
the "Respublika" newspaper, 1,000 litas ($360) on May 25 for
publishing a series of anti-Semitic editorials in 2004. The
court held that, by publishing the editorials claiming that
Jews and homosexuals "rule the world" (ref B), the paper
violated administrative law prohibiting "dissemination of a
publication that instigates national, racial, or religious
discord." On June 14, the court will take up the charges
against the editor-in-chief and author of the editorials,
Â¶2. (U) Simonas Alperavicius, President of the Lithuanian
Jewish Community, told us that the prosecutor had discussed
the amount of the fine with him in advance of the decision.
Alperavicius recognized that the court could have imposed a
fine of up to 6,000 litas ($2,180), but remarked that the
amount of the fine was not important. More important, he
said, was that the court find Valentukevicius in violation of
the law. Alperavicius commented that Valentukevicius is "not
a bad guy" and had simply followed Tomkus's orders.
Â¶3. (C) Comment: The court adjudicated the easier of the
cases relating to the Tomkus articles, involving only
dissemination of material and not instigation of hatred.
It's reasonable to expect that the court will at least find
that Tomkus violated the same law by disseminating the same
articles. It is less certain that they will find him guilty
of instigating anti-Semitism. The prosecution and
adjudication of the cases appear to conform to Lithuanian
legal norms, which go much further in proscribing "hate"
speech than U.S. laws.
Â¶4. (C) It takes little to trigger public anti-Semitic
discourse in some of the grimier corners of Lithuanian
society. Nonetheless, because the court's ruling appears
just but carries little penalty, we do not expect much outcry
about this decision. Neither do we rule out that Tomkus will
try to reclaim the spotlight with a provocative response.