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2021.08.10 10:50

Several thousand in Vilnius protest vaccination pass, erect gallows for ‘traitors’

Augustas Stankevičius, Saulius Jakučionis, BNS2021.08.10 10:50

Several thousand people have gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, on Tuesday morning to voice their protest against the government's planned restrictions for people with no coronavirus immunity.

The protesters are holding national and municipal flags and posters saying “STOP Discrimination”, “F**k National Certificate”, and chant “Disgrace, disgrace”.

According to police spokeswoman Julija Samorokovskaja, around 5,000 people joined the rally.

“We need to protect the state, the Constitution, to defend our rights, a free choice, for our rights not to be restricted, irrespective of whether a person wants to get vaccinated or not. Finally, vaccination means taking part in an experiment,” Ričardas Lekavičius, a 49-year-old farmer, told BNS.

Diana Verikienė, who is working in the beauty industry, said that people should “have a free right” to get vaccinated.

“I came here because I don't think that the government cares about the people. I have in mind vaccination and the segregation of people into those with national certificates and those without them. It's wrong,” the 51-year-old woman said.

Read more: Lithuania looks to bar unvaccinated people from non-essential shops and services

On Wednesday, the Lithuanian government is scheduled to consider a draft resolution on new coronavirus restrictions. An immunity certificate would re required to access a range of services, including shopping malls, restaurants and cafes, public events.

Improvised gallows have been erected outside the National Library near the parliament building with the inscription “For Lithuania's Traitors”. A stage has been built nearby for protest speeches.

Astra Genovaitė Astrauskaitė, one of the organisers, told the crowd that the planned coronavirus restrictions would segregate citizens, adding that “the statehood is in great danger”.

She also compared the restrictions to Nazi Germany.

Read more: Israeli embassy condemns use of Holocaust memory at anti-vaccination rally in Vilnius

“They are using state blackmail. And not only psychological [coercion], but they also plan to use physical and military force,” she said.

The controversial MP Dainius Kepenis later took to the stage to read out a statement by the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the biggest opposition party.

“We call for renouncing the strategy of intimidating people and, instead of using a rhetoric that divides the public into two Lithuanias – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – we call for an adequate public vaccination promotion campaign based on science and positive motivation,” the politician said.

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