Lithuanian politicians may be probed over leaflets


(JTA) — Lithuania’s central elections committee is reportedly probing two nationalist politicians for using allegedly anti-Semitic and Nazi imagery in elections material.

Marius Galinis’ campaign material for the Oct. 14 parliamentary elections features a black shirt and a Hindu swastika, according to the news site Delfi.

Unlike the Nazi symbol, the earlier Hindu sign faces right instead of left. Galinis denied the symbol was related to Nazism.

He is running for parliament as a candidate for the Coalition for Lithuania in Lithuania, a political movement made up of four nationalist parties. 

In its Oct. 3 report, Delfi said that Julius Panka, another Coalition candidate, distributed leaflets featuring a caricature of a smiling ultra-Orthodox Jew boasting about receiving money from the Lithuanian government.

Delfi quotes Justinas Zilinskas, a member of the elections committee, as saying that the committee may demand that the Nationalists cease distribution of the materials, or else “refer the matter to law enforcement on grounds of ethnic persecution.”

Panka denied the caricatures were anti-Semitic.

Text accompanying the caricature in his campaign literature reads: “Kubilius gave me 130 million and will give more,” an apparent reference to the recent decision by Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius to offer compensation for confiscated Jewish property. 

A caption in the leaflet reads: “Vote for No. 10, Coalition ‘For Lithuania in Lithuania’ will not throw the money away.”

In April, the Lithuanian government announced the creation of a $50 million fund to compensate Jews for property confiscated during the Nazi and Soviet eras.

Delfi quotes Panka as saying that “people who understand humor will see no ethnic hostility” and that it the leaflet “was not meant to incite or insult” but “simply to draw attention to how state funds are wasted.”

The leaflets for both candidates included the Nationalist Party’s slogan: “For Lithuania in Lithuania,” Delfi reported.

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