2020.06.29 17:17

Lithuanian parliament outlaws ‘open beach’ on Vilnius central square

BNS, LRT.lt2020.06.29 17:17

Lithuania’s parliament, Seimas, has passed a law saying that Lukiškių Square in Vilnius must be used to commemorate fighters for the country's independence and not offend “good morals”.

The bill was put forward in reaction to an initiative by Vilnius authorities to install a temporary beach on the square.

Read more: Vilnius turns central square into sandy beach

The law was passed on Monday in a vote of 78 to 11 with four abstentions.

According to it, Lukiškių Square should be the main representative location of the Lithuanian state and memorialise the country's struggles against the Soviet occupation as well as pay tribute to the 1863–1864 uprising against the Tsarist rule.

The use of the site must ensure “adequate respect” for the anti-Soviet guerilla fighters and leaders of the uprising who were executed on the square in 1864. The way the square is used “mustn't undermine public order and good morals”, according to the law.

The Seimas also approved a last-minute amendment to the bill, saying that Lukiškių Square must contain a Vytis monument, the symbol of the Lithuanian state.

The bill was drafted by MP Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, and passed with support from the opposition conservative MPs.

It is seen as a reaction against the Open Beach initiative of the local authorities of Vilnius.

Some policymakers have slammed the initiative as disrespectful for the memory of freedom fighters. President Gitanas Nausėda has also criticized the choice of Lukiškių Square for the beach.

Read more: Lithuanian politicians say a beach in Vilnius square ‘degrades’ memory

The Open Beach, covering an area of 1,660 square metres, was installed last week using around 300 cubic metres of sand.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has defended the initiative, saying that people enjoying themselves in the square is the best way to celebrate freedom from occupation.

“Nazis, who had their headquarters nearby, have evaporated from our land. Soviets, who stayed here for longer, have also been driven out and are now rotting outside Lithuania. And we, the winners, are celebrating our state, our capital Vilnius,” Šimašius posted on Facebook.