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Published on 20 July 2011 comments About the author: Linas Jegelevicius, 40, Lithuanian, obtained his master degree in journalism at the Vilnius University Institute of Journalism.Between 19, he lived in New York and Miami, where he contributed to Miami’s local newspaper Wire.
Algirdas Sysas, a social democrat and a member of the Lithuanian Parliament, is not surprised by the revelations of corruption in the Lithuanian media, and especially in some of the major dailies.
The difference in Lithuania is that direct payments are also involved.
The report refers to the case of a Labour Party official, who told a US Embassy staff member that it would cost him LTL 25,000 (EUR 7,000) to request a positive article in the Lietuvos Rytas daily newspaper, but only LTL 5,000 (EUR 1,600) for a Social Democratic Party member.
Following the affair, Vitas Tomkus, the owner and editor-in-chief of Respublika, reacted in the way he has been notorious for – by suing Aftenposten as well as 15 minuciu and Verslo zinios, the Lithuanian publications that had run the Aftenposten article.
In early July Respublika also filed a lawsuit against the US Embassy in Vilnius.
The US document exposed unethical and illegal practices in the two major daily Lithuanian newspapers, Respublika and Lietuvos Rytas.
Respublika newspaper As a result of the ensuing commotion, Lithuanian media watchdogs are now pondering whether the allegations might only be the tip of the iceberg.The embassy document dating back from 2007 further revealed that Raimundas Voishka, director of the Pfizer branch office in Vilnius, was contacted by the owner of Respublika, who offered to “kill” the pharmaceutical giant’s competitors in Lithuania.The price for the favour was set at one LTL 1 million (slightly over EUR 300,000), and the director was given two weeks’ time to respond.Most politicians have always strongly suspected these practices in some national newspapers,” Sysas says.The member of Parliament also revealed a personal experience with a major Lithuanian newspaper he described as a “tabloid”.Quite simultaneously, the UK and Lithuania have been plagued by notorious media scandals involving phone hacking practices in British tabloids and accusations of corruption and money extortion in national Lithuanian newspapers.