I'm a Vilnius-based Russian journalist. Recently I received the e-mail from the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania. No, it wasn't about "green card". It was the invitation from a lady from the PR & Cultural Section, to meet H.E. Ambassador - as well as to celebrate the glorious 4th of July. Though I don't care about Snickers and cheeseburgers, I wrote a most polite reply - that I'd gladly come and take part in the event. Still, on the following morning another e-mail came, telling that "on request of the security chief all foreign correspondents can be allowed only after sending her a copy of the accreditation card from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry - and, if I don't possess such a card, she apologizes for inconveniences". The very first thought was "How on earth they know that I don't have it?". I earn my money writing articles and contributing them to a dozen of various mass media (under at least four different names). Even if someone in the Lithuanian FM did not like – not the stories, but their titles – and decided that I cannot be a journalist. And - why, for God's sake, a Russian journalist must have a Lithuanian accreditation in order to meet the American ambassador?
Another thought that came immediately after that was that the lady from the PR & Cultural section didn't read history, or even literature. Long ago a young man called Joseph Brodsky (who claimed he was a poet, and later became a Nobel laureate) was charged with "social parasitism". The Soviet court found that his odd jobs were not sufficient to society. The judge asked him: "Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?". In order to be a journalist in a free and democratic Lithuania you must possess a media card issued by the FM. Now let me ask you: how many journalists contribuiting for this or that foreign-based media have it? For example - there is only ONE officially accredited Lithuanian correspondent in Moscow, and (if you think there's no freedom of speech in Russia) only ONE officially registrered Latvian colleague in Warsaw.
I also wondered whether the U.S. Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (who, according to its status, is responsible for all security issues at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania) really requires accreditation cards from the Foreign Ministry instead of the journalists' press cards issued by their respective offices. The funny thing is that even in Washington, D.C. ALL journalists and technicians are welcome to attend media events at the U.S. State Department - and they need one of the following as identification:
-a U.S. Government-issued photo identification card (from the White House, Department of Defense, the Foreign Press Center, U.S. Congress);
-a media-issued photo identification card; or
-a letter on the employing media organization's letterhead, accompanied by an official photo identification (driver's license or passport).
In order to get a press pass to the European Parliament in Brussels you must have your valid press card and your ID with a photo. Similar practice exists almost everywhere. But let's come back to Lithuania. Recently the Security Department of this country warned journalists that after any meeting with any foreign diplomat (who might be spies "interested in issues of Lithuania's home and foreign policy as well as the official position on vital international issues, realisation of energy projects, military potential – even if this information is not classified") they should report about it. Anyway, the U.S. are not on the "black list".
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