Lithuania’s media are describing the violence and vandalism that erupted on the first day of nationwide demonstrations against a curfew and possible further restrictions on street protests. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital city, on Monday to protest the government’s plans to toughen up its anti-demonstration law.
“The terrifying act of vandalism against banks, diplomatic missions and radio stations will not be ignored,” the protesters shouted after attacking banks and radio stations in Vilnius.
The demonstration organizers say that the proposed restrictions would unconstitutionally limit street protests. On Saturday, authorities stopped a nearly 1,000-strong protest gathering. On Sunday, 50 people were arrested. Lithuanian authorities say that the overwhelming majority of people who were present at the protest were Lithuanian citizens and not international citizens that frequently gather in Lithuania to protest, according to BBC News.
Protesters have been rallying for weeks against the authoritarian government of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. Lacking enough votes in parliament to pass legislation on any legislation, Grybauskaite is instead seeking approval of unspecified laws regulating the street protests.
The government and police have said that prior to the protests, they had already taken steps to prevent the formation of large gatherings in large cities that often turn violent. Lithuania’s Public Broadcasting Corporation LRT says that the government threatened to remove civil liberties if they disobeyed orders on Sunday. In a televised address, Grybauskaite defended the government’s actions and raised her warning to say that if the protesters did not leave the streets of Vilnius after being advised to do so by police, “things would be very serious.”
Read the full story at The Telegraph.
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