Lithuania – MP under investigation after posting antisemitic remarks

Remigijus Žemaitaitis. J. Stacevičius/LRT

Vilnius – The Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office has opened a pre-trial investigation into MP Remigijus Žemaitaitis’ remarks claiming that Jews were killing Lithuanians during World War Two. 

According to Elena Martinonienė, its spokeswoman, the probe is based on the Criminal Code’s article on public contempt and incitement to hatred against any national, racial, ethnic, religious or other group of people.

Žemaitaitis posted comments on his Facebook profile this week, expressing his anger over Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė’s visit to Israel and accusing Jews of deporting and killing Lithuanians.

“We, the Lithuanian nation, must never forget the Jews and Russians who were very active in the destruction of our nation!” he wrote.

“What is disgusting is that Šimonytė is talking such nonsense, given that on June 3, 1944, Lithuanian Jews, together with the Russians, killed the entire village of Pirčiupiai and the people who lived there,” the MP wrote, commenting on the prime minister’s statement about Lithuania’s friendship with Israel.

The Pirčiupiai massacre that Žemaitaitis was referring to was actually perpetrated by German SS troops. On June 3, 1944, after a group of Nazi Germans had been attacked by Soviet partisans in a nearby forest, the Germans sent a punishment squadron and burned alive almost all inhabitants of Pirčiupiai, 119 people.

Ninety-six percent of Lithuania’s Jewish population was killed by Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators in the Holocaust.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, told BNS on Wednesday that the state must react to Žemaitaitis’ statements and take measures to prevent antisemitism.

Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, speaker of the parliament and leader of the Liberal Movement, described the MP’s remarks as a continuation of his “chosen line which is based on provocations and the stirring up of discord”.

The board of the Lithuanian Freedom and Justice Party suspended Žemaitaitis’ membership back in May over his Facebook post criticising the demolition of a Palestinian school by Israel.

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