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2021.06.23 14:33

Prosecutors drop probe into artist accused of desecrating Lithuanian flag

BNS2021.06.23 14:33

Vilnius District Prosecutor's Office has dropped an investigation into an alleged flag desecration by the artist Dainius Liškevičius.

Liškevičius made a video performance, called Blub/Restart, in 2000 in which he wipes chocolate off his face with a Lithuanian flag. Far-right groups have accused him of desecrating a state symbol.

Read more: Lithuanian artist under investigation after nationalist groups complain of ‘flag desecration’

However, prosecutors said the statute of limitations, which is eight years, had already expired.

Moreover, prosecutors noted, the video, which was recently posted on the website of the MO Museum, is a piece of art by a professional artist.

The MO Museum acquired Liškevičius' video in 2014 and uploaded it on YouTube that same year. The performance has been included in exhibitions in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Germany, and also shown at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

The Lithuanian Nationalist and Republican Union, a fringe right-wing political party, filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General's Office back in February. Prosecutors then launched a formal investigation.

The case gained new momentum when Liškevičius' video was shown during a recent anti-LGBTQ+ rally in Vilnius, the so-called ‘Big Family Defence March’.

Soon after the investigation was launched, a number of Lithuanian cultural institutions and organisations made public calls to protect free expression.

Blot/Restart shows Liškevičius melting a bar of chocolate with a lighter and then spreading it on his face and hands, in reference to blackface. He then uses a Lithuanian flag to wipe off the chocolate.

The performance is a critique of ethnic nationalism in Lithuania, the artist said, and probes the limits of patriotism.

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