2019.08.07 10:00

After Jewish Community receives threats, PM condemns 'ethnic hatred'

BNS 2019.08.07 10:00

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Tuesday condemned manifestations of ethnic hatred and called on the country's law enforcement to prevent them after the Jewish community spoke of threats.

"The prime minister calls on law enforcement institutions to take action and to prevent possible elements of ethnic hatred and use other legal measures if needed," the government said in a statement.

"The prime minister underlines that the state's duty is to ensure the right to safety for every citizen living in the country and for every community. Responsible institutions must implement this duty," the statement reads.

The Jewish Community of Lithuania (LŽB) has said on Tuesday it is closing Vilnius Synagogue and its headquarters for an indeterminate period due to threats, and is also asking for additional protection of Sudervė Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius against acts of vandalism.

Read more: Jewish Community receives threats, closes synagogue and headquarters

Tensions have risen in Lithuania in recent weeks following the Vilnius authorities' decision to remove the controversial memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika, also known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), and also rename the street named after Kazys Skirpa, another controversial figure.

Read more: Despite protests, Vilnius renames street dedicated to Škirpa 'who promoted Holocaust'

Read more: Vilnius removes plaque for anti-Soviet partisan and accused Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika

Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, told BNS on Tuesday the community has received threatening letters recently, but has not turned to the police and has no intention to do so.

Ramūnas Matonis, spokesman for Lithuania's police, told BNS that officers are ready to prevent any unrest incidents or attempts to incite to ethnic hatred.

"During the rally near the monument to King Mindaugas on Wednesday additional police forces will also be deployed, it will be recorded, and we are ready to respond to any attempt to incite unrest," the police spokesman said.

Read more: Protesters 'to defend Lithuanian heroes' after historical memory controversy

In his words, the police have had contact with the Jewish Community of Lithuania in recent days. However, "we haven't received anything official. They have just expressed their concern that they don't feel safe. We assured them that we are ready to respond," Matonis said.