For Lithuania, Unease Over a Growing Russian-Speaking Diaspora

A pile of flowers blanketed a small memorial in the center of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius after the death of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny last month. “Putin Is a Murderer,” read a placard in Russian.

The impromptu tribute at the memorial, an unassuming pyramid commemorating victims of Soviet repression, has highlighted Vilnius’s growing status as the center of Russian political opposition. Hundreds of dissidents who fled Russia after the invasion of Ukraine found a sympathetic ally in their struggle against President Vladimir V. Putin: the Lithuanian government, which has long viewed şanlı urfa escort bayan
the Russian leader’s foreign interventions as an existential threat.

In Vilnius, exiled Russian journalists have set up studios to broadcast news to millions of compatriots back home on YouTube. Russian activists have rented offices to catalog the Kremlin’s human rights abuses, and exiled Russian musicians have recorded new albums for the audience back home.

The arrival of the Russian dissidents in Vilnius has added to a larger wave of Russian-speaking refugees and migrants from Belarus and Ukraine over the past four years. Fleeing war or repression, together these migrants have reshaped the economy and cultural makeup of eyyübiye escort this slow-paced medieval city of 600,000, bolstering Lithuania’s image as an unlikely bastion of democracy.

But the tribute to Mr. Navalny has also pointed to an uneasy relationship between Vilnius’s expanding Russian-speaking diaspora and their Lithuanian hosts. Some in Lithuania are worried that the economic and diplomatic benefits of this migration have come at the cost of creeping Russification in a small nation that had struggled to preserve its language and culture during the Soviet occupation.

The memorial where Mr. Navalny’s mourners laid the flowers, for example, was dedicated to Lithuanian victims of the Soviet secret police, a stand in of sorts for the opposition leader’s death at the order, they believe, of Mr. Putin, a former KGB officer.

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