The news article saying that Lithuania had introduced fines for free plastic bags distribution was published on a Belarus news website on January 28, 2020. It says that the Sejm of Lithuania has decided to impose large fines on those merchants who give free plastic bags to customers. The only exception applies for the bags which thickness does not exceed 15 microns and which are used for bulk products.
The Belarusian Russian-language media says that at the request of the European Union, fines were imposed in Lithuania for the free distribution of plastic bags. It was stated in the Sejm press-release. The news article says that there will be large fines for breaking the law. The largest of which is 5 000 euros. The amendments were made to the Law on Environmental Protection and the Code of Administrative Offenses. The decision was unanimous.
In order to factcheck the information we visited the Sejm official website and then found «Visuomenei ir žiniasklaidai» section which translates as «For the public and the media» and subsection «Naujienos» with the news. On the right side there is a list of sections one of which is dedicated to information on the Sejm meetings. After scrolling downwards you can see a post from 23.01.2020, which we were looking for. After clicking on the post you can see that there is indeed a liability for the free distribution of lightweight plastic shopping bags. However, the Belarusian media claims that for breaking the law you will only have to pay a fine. But on the Sejm website it says that apart from the fine the perpetrator will face a warning. Also there is information that 63 members of the Seimas voted in favor, but one abstained.
Thus, we can conclude that the news presented by the Belarusian website is mostly true. Fines are indeed levied, but this is not the only punishment. One abstention does not give the journalist the right to say that the decision was unanimous.
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Authors: Marina Nazarova, Oleg Igoshin, South Ural State University, Chelyabinsk, Russia