04:46 GMT18 January 2021
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    VILNIUS (Sputnik) - The detention of Marat Kasem, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik Lithuania, which is part of the Rossiya Segodnya International News Agency, is a shameful incident that demonstrates Lithuania's hostility toward Russian journalists, Russian Ambassador to Lithuania Alexander Udaltsov told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    “I talked to him. He has gone through a three-hour interrogation that was conducted in such an ironic and mocking way… We can guess what goals [the Lithuanian] secret services are pursuing while arranging such an interrogation. I repeat that Lithuania should be ashamed,” Udaltsov said, adding that Kasem was a Latvian citizen and that the case was about the freedom of speech.

    READ MORE: Sputnik Lithuania Chief Editor Says to Appeal Entry Ban Issued by Vilnius

    According to Udaltsov, everything that has happened is a blatant example of the Lithuanian government's aggressive actions against dissent.

    “Unfortunately, this action vividly characterizes all that is happening in Lithuania today. The country’s authorities have started a war against dissent, a war against any views, assessments, thoughts that differ from the doctrine of today’s authorities… Journalists from Russian media are the number one enemies because they think in a different way and hence are a threat to the state,” Udaltsov said.

    He also ruled out the involvement of Lithuania’s newly elected president, Gitanas Nauseda, in Kasem's situation. The ambassador expressed hope that Nauseda would rectify the problems of the previous government, including violations of freedom of speech and human rights, and address the country's relations with Russia.

    On Tuesday, Kasem was detained at the Vilnius airport and then deported for being an alleged national security risk. Kasem has also said that he has been banned from entering Lithuania for five years.

    Rossiya Segodnya editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan has said that Russian media in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been severely disadvantaged. Russia’s mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has called Kasem’s expulsion a grave violation of press freedom.


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