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The Daily Vertical: The Myth Of Baltic Russophobia (Transcript)


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The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

It's time to put a myth to rest.

It's time to bury a false narrative once and for all.

It's time for the truth to trump the disinformation about the alleged Russophobia of the Baltic states.

For decades, the Kremlin has been peddling a story that Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians are inherently and irrationally anti-Russian.

The facts tell another story.

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Just last week, for example, I spoke at the opening ceremony of a new Andrei Sakharov center at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Present were Lithuanian officials and citizens, as well as Russian citizens, united in their desire to honor a man many see as one of the greatest Russians of the 20th century.

At the same event, I attended a photo exhibition featuring Russian citizens who have found political asylum in Lithuania.

The photojournalist who created the exhibition said the project showed him how his country had become fully European in the sense that it was now taking in foreign nationals fleeing oppression in their homelands -- in this case, Russian nationals fleeing oppression in their homelands.

In fact, in recent years, thousands of Russian citizens have emigrated to Estonia and Latvia, as well as to Lithuania -- and have been welcomed with open arms.

And earlier this month, Vilnius hosted the Free Russia Forum, an annual gathering of Russian activists who seek to make their country a freer and more humane place.

The myth of Baltic Russophobia serves the Kremlin's purposes.

Because when Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania raise the alarm about the revanchism of Vladimir Putin's regime, it is often dismissed in Western capitals as irrational hysteria.

It's high time to put this myth to rest.

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