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Freedom of Speech

Lithuania tightens state of emergency, limits free speech

epa09789050 People hold posters as they gather during a protest in support of Ukraine in Vilnius, Lithuania, 27 February 2022. Several thousand people protested in front of the Russian embassy against the war in Ukraine. Since 24 February 2022, the territory of Ukraine is under attack by Russia. EPA-EFE/VALDA KALNINA

VILNIUS, March 10 (Reuters) - Lithuania's parliament on Thursday imposed a stricter state of emergency over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, limiting rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, voting records showed.

The legislation, in effect at least until April 20, enables police to remove access to a media outlet for up to 72 hours for “disinformation”, “war propaganda” and “incitement of hate” relating to the invasion, parliament said.

In total, 71 out of the 117 votes cast by members of parliament were in support of the motion, which required a simple majority to pass.

“This motion limits the ability to say that ‘Putin is great’ in (public) meetings, and to spread war propaganda and disinformation,” Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told members of parliament.

“I think no one in this parliament hall is interested to have this poison Lithuanian people’s determination and will to help Ukraine,” she said.

Lithuania’s president on Feb. 24 declared a state of emergency hours after Russia began its invasion, telling the NATO country’s army to deploy along its borders with Russia and Belarus. 

By Andrius Sytas

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas, editing by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche)

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