Prime Minister: as Russia deploys disinformation in the fight against us, we must not confuse freedom of speech with freedom to spread lies


2023 05 29


Freedom of speech should not be confused with freedom to spread lies, said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, noting Russia’s active efforts to weaken democratic societies through disinformation, as she took part in a GLOBSEC Forum in Bratislava, together with President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and former Prime Minister of Slovakia Eduard Heger.

Speaking about the support of Lithuanian society, institutions and NGOs to Ukraine, the Prime Minister noted Lithuania’s historical experience and memory, which have shaped its resilience and ability to identify Russia’s disinformation attempts today.

‘We know that freedom is not a given, as many people still vividly recall that not so long ago it was different, and it took a lot of effort to regain an independent state for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. This is something to be cherished and worth fighting for,’ the Prime Minister said.

Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 came as a surprise to those who thought that close economic cooperation would bring Russia closer to the West in terms of values, but events have proved otherwise.

‘Anyone who lives in Russia’s neighbourhood and knows its history - including through personal experience - knows that not much is changing in this country. That is why we sensed and understood what was coming’, the Prime Minister said.

The Lithuanian Head of Government pointed out the weaponization of disinformation - one of the ways Russia operates in the West that is not always visible.

‘Sometimes we confuse freedom of speech with freedom to spread lies, which is particularly problematic in the era of social networks. We can see situations where pro-Ukrainian posts, or simply posts publicizing Russia’s brutal aggression, are blocked, while blatant Russian propaganda is allowed to circulate freely,’ said the Prime Minister.

The GLOBSEC Forum is an annual event dedicated to international and security policy issues, attended by heads of state, academia and representatives of international organisations.