VILNIUS - Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius sparred with a journalist of the Kremlin-financed television channel Russia Today over propaganda and journalists working for state-controlled media during an international conference on the safety of journalists in Vilnius on Monday.
The discussion started when Maksim Buyekevich of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department began to speak about information warfare.
"Are we talking about something that was officially declared here? This is a half-question, half-statement," he said.
Linkevicius responded, "If you think that no war is going on, then why is Russia fighting it? (...) Why is it allocating so much money and resources to brainwash people and doing so deliberately, through state-run media?"
"You know the direction of such channels as Russia Today (...). I don't think this has anything to do with journalism," he said.
Dainius Radzevicius, head of the Lithuanian Journalists' Union, added that the media needed freedom, not government control.
A Russia Today journalist, who did not give her name, shot back, saying, "Journalists working for state-controlled media are journalists, too. And if this is a conference where the safety of journalists is discussed, we also have the right to that safety."
"What is one person's propaganda may be another person's truth. The question of what propaganda is is very subjective. There'll be very different answers and different opinions," she added.
Lithuania's top diplomat said in response that that was not about expressing one's opinion, but about "spreading deliberate lies".
Referring to Russia's media reports about the situation in Ukraine, Linkevicius said, "It was said that Russia had nothing to do with this war -- no troop presence, no weapons. This has been said many times".
"Are you, as a journalist, really unaware of what is happening in Ukraine? Don't you know that Russia is involved there with a large number of weapon systems, heavy weapons? As a journalist, a normal citizen who reads newspapers and understands the situation, aren't you aware of this?" he asked.