National Minorities

The Regulations of the Ministry of Culture indicate the coordination of implementation of State policy in the field of national minorities as one of the objectives of the Ministry of Culture. With a view to achieving this goal, the Ministry of Culture, within its competence, prepares the drafts laws, Government resolutions and other legal acts, as well as coordinates the drafting and implementation of long-term programmes aimed at assisting the people belonging to national minorities to resolve the problems of safeguarding their culture and identity.

Legal regulation
The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (Art. 37 and 45) regulates the rights of people belonging to national minorities.

The protection of rights and freedoms of national minorities and the people belonging thereto forms an integral part of the international protection of human rights and falls within the ambit of the field of international cooperation. The Republic of Lithuania has ratified the key international agreements regulating the rights of national minorities.

The agreements of the United Nations:
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The conventions of the Council of Europe:
- The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
- On 1 February 1995, the Republic of Lithuania signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe, followed by ratification thereof without any reservations on 17 February 2000.

The Republic of Lithuania Law on Associations and the Republic of Lithuania Law on Charity and Sponsorship guarantees the freedom of association and the right to receive sponsorship for the people belonging to national minorities.

The Laws on Citizenship, on the State Language, on Education, on Provision of Information to the Public, on Religious Communities and Associations, on Political Parties and Political Organisations, on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child, and other legal acts guarantee and regulate protection of the rights of people belonging to national minorities.

With a view to achieving the objective in coordination of the State policy in the field of national minorities as specified in the Regulations, the Ministry of Culture is implementing the Strategy for Development until 2015 of the National Minorities Policy and the Action Plan for Integration of the Roma community into the Lithuanian society for 2012–2014.

When implementing paragraph 1180 of the Implementation Measures of the Programme of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania for 2008-2012, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania drafts the concept of the Republic of Lithuania Law on National Minorities.

National minorities in Lithuania
According to the data of the Overall Population and Housing Census, in 2011 Lithuania was inhabited by people of 154 nationalities (in comparison with 2001, 115). People belonging to national minorities constituted approximately 16.5 per cent of the total population in Lithuania. Lithuanians made up 84.2 per cent (2 million 561 thousand), Poles – 6.6 per cent (200.3 thousand), Russians – 5.8 per cent (176.9 thousand), Belarusians – 1.2 per cent (36.2 thousand), Ukrainians – 0.5 per cent (16.4 thousand), people of other ethnicities – 0.6 per cent (19.3 thousand).

The majority of the people of other than Lithuanian nationality reside in the municipalities of the Eastern and South-Eastern Lithuania, in Vilnius, Klaipėda, Visaginas, and other cities and towns of Lithuania.

National composition of population in 2001-2011

 

Population (total)

Population in per cent, in comparison with the total number of population

 

2001

2011

2001

2011

Total

3 483 972

3 043 629

100

100

Lithuanians

2 907 293

2 561 314

83,45

84,16

Poles

234 989

200 317

6,74

6,58

Russians

219 789

176 913

6,31

5,81

Belarusians

42 866

36 227

1,23

1,19

Ukrainians

22 488

16 423

0,65

0,54

Jews

4 007

3 050

0,12

0,10

Germans

3 243

2 418

0,09

0,08

Tatars

3 235

2 793

0,09

0,09

Latvians

2 955

2 025

0,09

0,07

Gypsies

2 571

2 115

0,07

0,07

Armenians

1 477

1 322

0,04

0,04

Other nationalities

3 517

3 508

0,10

0,12

Unspecified

32 921

32 978

0,95

1,08

*Data of the Department of Statistics under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania

 

Approximately 300 non-governmental organisations of national minorities are engaged in an active cultural activity in Lithuania. The Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chechen, Estonian, Greek, Karaits, Latvian, Polish, Roma, Romanian, Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Hungarian, German, Jewish, and other national minority communities have established non-governmental organisations. These are cultural, educational, professional, and other organisations. The State budget finances their educational and cultural projects.

Seeking to satisfy cultural and educational needs of the Lithuanian national minorities, social activity centres of national minorities were established. These are the House of National Communities in Vilnius (established in 1991), the Kaunas Cultural Centre of Various Nations (2004), the Roma Community Centre (2001), and the Folklore and Ethnography Centre of the Lithuanian National Minorities (2007).

Education
The laws of the Republic of Lithuania guarantee the national minorities residing in Lithuania the right to State or State-supported pre-school institutions, general education schools and classes in their native language. If the national groups are small and constitute a minority of the population in the area, classes and optional courses as well as Saturday/Sunday schools can be established in State general education schools with a view to enable the people belonging to the national minorities to learn and improve their native language.

The schools with national minorities’ language as the language of instruction operate in the areas inhabited by large national minorities’ population. According to the data estimates of 2016-2017, there were 108 schools in Lithuania with one or several national minority/foreign languages of instruction. From them there were 52 schools with Polish as the language of instruction, 30 schools with Russian language of instruction, 1 – Belarusian, 9 Lithuanian and Polish, 12 Lithuanian and Russian, 7 Russian and Polish, and 7 with Lithuanian, Russian and Polish languages of instruction.

If the national minorities constitute a small minority group in the area, supplementary education may be organised and Saturday/Sunday schools can be established, with a view to enabling the people belonging to the national minorities to learn and improve their native language. Currently, there are approximately 42 Saturday/Sunday schools established by the Armenians, Azerbaijani, Belarusians, Estonians, Greeks, Karaits, Kazakhstani, Poles, Roma, Russian, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbek, Germans, and the Jews residing in Lithuania. People belonging to national minorities learn their native language and become familiar with their national culture and traditions, history and cultural heritage in these schools.


Media
Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT) airs information in national minorities’ language – Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Yiddish, and Ukrainian.

There are periodicals and magazines in Russian, Polish, and Yiddish published in the country. The Lithuanian Tatar community is publishing the newspaper Lietuvos totoriai (Lithuanian Tatars) in Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish.

Lithuanian Poles can read in Polish the Kurier Wileński daily (The Vilnius Courier) (http://kurierwilenski.lt), the Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny weekly (The Vilnius Region Weekly), monthly magazine Magazyn Wileński (Vilnius Magazine), and quarterly Znad Wilii. Since 2003, The Nasza Gazeta (The Our Newspaper) is a supplement of The Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny.

There are Polish radio stations in Lithuania: ZNAD WILII (since the 1st of July 1992), the Internet radio ZW FUN (since the 17th of February 2016) and RADIO WILNO (since the 3rd of April 2016).
 
Polish national minority have access to internet portals www.zw.lt, www.l24.lt, www.wilnoteka.lt, and www.pogon.lt.

There are five national Russian-language weekly newspapers in Lithuania: Литовский курьер (the Lithuanian Courier) www.kurier.lt, Экспресс неделя (the Express Weekly) www.nedelia.lt, Обзор (the Review) www.obzor.lt, and Республика (the Republic). Newspapers in Russian Sugardas and В каждый дом (To Every House) are published in Visaginas. As of 2008, information in Russian was available on the Internet portal http://ru.delfi.lt.

The House of National Communities in Vilnius issues bulletin Tautinių bendrijų naujienos (The News Of National Minorities) which is dedicated to all the national minorities residing in Lithuania.

Last updated: 20-02-2018