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Tension around Lithuania’s General Storm continues with censorship accusations

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Lithuania’s leading advertising poster firm JCDecaux Lietuva has rejected three orders to place materials with Jonas Noreika. The memory of the controversial Lithuanian from the tragic middle of the 20th century, also called General Storm, was first affected by the removal of his memorial plaque.

Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports that Noreika is known for the anti-Soviet resistance movement in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, but is also implicated in the Holocaust for his actions during the Nazi German occupation the Baltic country.

One of the orders was placed by a nationalist organisation ProPatria and was later reallocated to one of its members, Dovilas Petkus, who is running for a seat in the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, this month and has claimed the company is censoring his election campaign.

The head of JCDecaux Lietuva, Žaneta Fomova, said the company came under “pressure to process the order as quickly as possible […] and, following unfounded accusations of discrimination, handed all further communication over to its lawyers”.

Fomova said the decision not to proceed with the order was made after consulting lawyers for fear of raising tensions in the society.

The memorial plaque to Noreika, a pre-war Lithuanian military officer and an anti-Soviet resistance fighter also known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), was taken down in late July following the initiative of Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

He reasoned he made the decision because Noreika, the head of Šiauliai County during the Nazi occupation, signed documents establishing a Jewish ghetto and expropriating Jewish property.

The move was welcomed by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and parts of the society, but also led to protests by Noreika supporters who point to the fact that he fought both against the Soviets and the Nazis, and was later imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp.

The articled originally appeared on LRT English: https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1093825/accusations-of-censorship-as-company-refuses-to-hang-campaign-billboards-with-jonas-noreika


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