11 Sep. 2021 08:20 o’clock
The police in Vilnius arrested 20 people. This came after a rally with thousands of participants against the COVID-19 lockdown and “LGTBQ + propaganda” ended in a stalemate with the police.
Around 5,000 people flocked to an event organized by the traditionalist Lithuanian family movement in the center of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Friday. The demonstrators, who gathered in Cathedral Square north of the old town, waved the Lithuanian national flag and held placards reading “George Soros out of Lithuania” and “No to animal passports” – a nod to the introduction of immunity passports and other restrictions on COVID -19, which should come into effect on Monday.
The protesters urged their government to reverse the decision prohibiting access to some stores, services and public events in buildings for those without an immunity certificate. The document will be given to people who are fully vaccinated, who have recently recovered from COVID-19, or who have tested negative for the virus within the last 48 hours.
The rally went almost without incident to the end when a group of demonstrators headed towards the Lithuanian Parliament and defied the instructions of the police and the chairman of the family movement, Raimondas Grinevicius. He had asked the supporters to stay in the square and avoid provocations before the rally.
Videos posted on social media saw police officers in combat gear break up the crowd and arrest several people.
Of the roughly two dozen people who were arrested, most were arrested for disobeying police orders, including walking on the road, police said. Two people were arrested in front of Parliament as part of an investigation into previous clashes and one was arrested for illegal drug possession.
According to the police, no one was injured and no property was damaged in the brief altercation.
The protesters not only vented their displeasure with the government’s handling of the pandemic, but also turned against a bill to legalize same-sex civil partnerships and a proposal to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a human rights treaty to combat violence against women and domestic violence in general, which was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011.
Several countries, including Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland, consider that the Convention promotes the LGBTQ + cause and harms traditional family values. Lithuania signed the convention in 2013 but has never ratified it.
During the rally, which was also attended by members of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a pre-recorded video greeting from representatives of Fidesz, the party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, was played.
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