Eggs riot in Vilnius
See an update on the riots
There was no such a situation in Lithuania for ten years’ these words of one of the top Police Chiefs said in press conferences. Some seven thousand protesters gathered in the front of the Parliament to protest against the new government’s anti crises plan today. The plan was adopted only few weeks ago, however it managed to upset few people in Lithuania. There were demos in Siauliai, Alytus, Panevezys, Alytus also.
However, only in Vilnius the demo erupted into rioting. There were some disturbances In Siauliai also. The special police forces are still on the guard in the streets surrounding the Parliament.
There a lot of details still emerging but there are some facts. 151 rioters were detained, 15 people were injured. 2 million Litas of damage was done to Seimas. Some of the arrested had knifes, iron bars and Molotov cocktails. The police use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd of rioters.
The Trade Union confederation the main organisers of the demos, have distanced themselves from the troublemakers. Despite riots in Riga only few nights ago, the organisers guarantied that the demo will be peaceful. However, it appears that that the peaceful, but noisy demo turned into riots once the main demonstrators began planned march to the Governmental building about two kilometres away.
The Police kept distance when the snowballs and eggs showered the parliamentarian building. However, the ammunition became more aggressive, and once the stones and other heavy objects began outnumber eggs and snowballs the police decided to intervene…
Absolute majority of the troublemakers were youth with hoods covering their heads. The biggest ‘surprise’ was that such youth actually came to the streets having in mind the apolitical nature of the Lithuanian youth. This youth was harvesting the results of the rapid Lithuania’s development in the last eight years and don’t resemble the ‘hard times’ in the 1990s. I would also assume that those rioters do not give a dam about the pensioners and the demos’ causes.
The Prime Minister Kubilius mentioned that the riots were superbly organised, and mentioned ‘forces unfriendly to Lithuania’s sovereignty’. President Adamkus compared Vilnius ‘eggs riots’ with Bronze Soldier events in Tallinn and recent riots in Riga. Professor of Politics Lopata advised to compare Vilnius, Riga, Sofia and Greece. Prof of Sociology Gaidys voiced his concern that Lithuania was caught unprepared: ‘We did not realise that situation so bad’ he admitted.
Those riots are wake up call to the new government that time has come to do some explanatory work about the reforms. Yes, there are 10.000 unemployed registered last month alone, government has to borrow to pay pensions, and economy is going to have a negative GDP growth this year. The government has to explain reasons behind it anti crisis plan. And of course, authorities should tighten their belts also…However, in about twelve hours there is going to be another demo in Klaipeda. Lets see how long it will remain ‘peaceful’.