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24 Jul, 2007 01:36

Lithuania shuts down Russian news programme

The shrinking Russian minority in Lithuania is trying to keep the little Russian culture it has left in its life from slipping away from new generations.

The latest example they say is the cancellation of a Russian news programme.

Lithuanian State-run television is pulling the plug on its Russian news program due to what they say are low ratings though there could be other motives behind the move.

“Russians used to be the largest minority here but now there are more Polish nationals and they might be wondering why there is no Polish news,” pointed out Oleg Kordyukov, Russian news editor, Vilnius.

But the station’s General Director says the figures are simple.

“The program was created when we gained independence to help inform the Russian speaking population, but Russians have integrated. Almost all of them speak Lithuanian and this 10 minutes of Russian language news doesn't give them anything, the ratings are less than 1 %,” states Kestutis Petrauskis, General Director of TV-Vilnius.

Although, according to the Russians Union, the survey was conducted by an independent Swedish company, the results were not published.

“Those ratings mean nothing. There are certain tendencies pushing out Russian culture from Lithuania,” observed Sergey Dmitriev from the Russian Union, Vilnius.

And not all Russians speak Lithuanian, especially the elderly.

“It is not true about the rating. Russians watch the news at 5:20. Every day I turn on the programme and can see news they do not show on Lithuanian programs,” stressed Dmitry Vasiliev, Russian pensioner, Vilnius.

Now it is a ten-minute news program, but first it was schools, and the Board of Russian Language at the University.

“The board for Russian Language at the University existed for two hundred years and they closed it down. How is that possible that nowadays many people who were educated there work as cashiers in local shops, they are highly educated people?” grieved Mikael Bozhenkiny, another Russian pensioner from Vilnius.