Dabar populiaru
Published: 9 march 2012 13:09

Nationalists, socialists and human-rights activists will hold three opposing Independence Day events in Vilnius

Kovo 11-osios eitynėse
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Kovo 11-osios eitynėse

The 11 March – Lithuania's second Independence Day – promises great challenges to Vilnius police force in charge of public safety. Especially those patrolling the central Gediminas street that will host three big events: a march of Lithuanian nationalist youth; a protest rally by the Socialist People's Front (SLF); and an afternoon event by human-rights organizations.

Marching “For Motherland”

Members of Lithuanian Nationalist Centre and Lithuanian Nationalist Youth, holding an Independence Day parade “For Motherland,” are meeting Sunday 1 PM in the Cathedral Square and will march on the Gediminas street towards the Lukiškės Square, where they are planning to hold a rally with speeches and renditions of the Lithuanian anthem. According to the permit issued by the city authorities, the event is projected to draw up to 2 thousand participants.

An invitation to join the event, published on-line in Lithuanian Nationalist Youth website, calls it a patriotic march. “Lithuania for Lithuanians, Lithuanians for Lithuania!” reads the official slogan. Similar wordings have become object of huge controversy surrounding Nationalist Youth's annual events. According to its organizers, this year's march will be attended by guests from Italy, France, Latvia, Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine.

“Antifascist” Picket

Outraged at such events, the Socialist People's Front (SLF), too, wanted to hold a rally in Kudirka Square, but were denied the permit. Therefore, they are planning a small picket of under 10 people – which, according to regulations, does not require a permit.

SLF members call their event an “antifascist” rally. The Socialist People's Front have proclaimed themselves Lithuania's only party that will “call phenomena by their real names.” “We refer to fascists as fascists and reveal their sponsors in the Government,” reads the SLF proclamation.

The event is scheduled for 1 PM, same time as the nationalist march. Police officers will have to ensure there are no clashes between the two groups.

The Socialist People's Front is a controversial organization headed by Algirdas Paleckis. He has recently been charged with slander against members of Sąjūdis, Lithuanian liberation movement of the 1980s-early 1990s, and is criticized for alleged liaisons with Moscow.

“Let's Celebrate Freedom”

Participants in the afternoon event are not anticipating a direct encounter with neither nationalists nor Paleckis' group. At least that was the plan of Vilnius municipal authorities when they were timing the events. The human-rights activists are starting their march at 4 PM.

Even though some politicians have openly called the event a gay pride, the organizers – the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) and Center for Equality Advancement (CEA) – claim it to be a celebration of freedom. People are welcome to come carrying Lithuanian tricolours only and not use it as a platform for ideological debate.

The event includes many well-known Lithuanian singers, musicians, dancers, and actors. A number of “entertainment islands” are planned between the Independence Square and Lukiškės Square.

4:30 PM, two processions will move from the Independence Square and Kudirka Square towards the Music Academy. One of them is headed by artist Nomeda Marčėnaitė, another – musician Arnoldas Lukošius. The two will meet at the Music Academy, concluding the event with the national anthem.

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