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2021.08.11 00:11

Protesters clash with police as rally outside Lithuanian parliament turns violent

LRT.lt2021.08.11 00:11

Police officers used tear gas and had to forcefully push back a crowd from the parliament building as Tuesday's rally against coronavirus restrictions turned into clashes.

As of Tuesday midnight, several hundred people remained outside the parliament, blocking exists and throwing stones at the police and vehicles leaving the compound.

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

Police Commissioner General Renatas Požėla said a pre-trial investigation was opened into organising a riot.

At around midnight, police officers, helped by the Public Security Service, started pushing the crowd from the parliament building. Under the Law on Assembly, rallies are not allowed within 75 metres of the parliament.

“Our minimal goal is to ensure a distance of 75 metres [from protesters] to the Seimas building, and further stages of the police operation will follow according to situation,” Požėla told reporters.

Around 5,000 protesters gathered at the rally at noon, denouncing the government's planned restrictions on non-vaccinated people. Some called it discrimination, going even so far as to compare it to the Nazi persecution of Jews.

Permission for the rally was issued until 17:00, but part of the crowd stayed on and surrounded the parliament building, refusing to allow parliament members to leave.

Some speakers were demanding to disband the parliament and for the government to resign.

A white wan was seen leaving the parliament compound at around 23:00, presumably transporting politicians. The protesters were throwing stones at the vehicle and trying to block its way.

According to BNS, three ambulance teams were present at the scene and several people were injured. At least two people were seen with bandaged heads, while others suffered from tear gas.

Požėla said that one police officer was injured by the protesters.

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