2021.08.11 09:23

Police detain 26 people during riots outside Lithuanian parliament, 18 officers injured

BNS2021.08.11 09:23

Twenty-six people were detained during riots outside the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday night, and 18 officers were injured.

“Police took action and dispersed the crowd, detained 26 persons who were taken to the chief police commissariat,” Saulius Gagas, chief of Vilnius County Police Commissariat, told LRT RADIO on Wednesday morning.

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

The detained individuals intentionally disturbed public order and injured officers, the police say.

“They all took unlawful action, damaged police vehicles, caused physical pain to officers, and also an ambulance was pelted with stones,” Gagas said.

“I should say that around 10 police officers and officers of the Public Security Service were injured,” he added, noting that the number might go up as some officers turned to medics early in the morning after they ended their service.

Officials later specified that 18 officers were injured during the riot: twelve police officers and six officers of the Public Security Service. Three of them required hospital treatment and surgical help, according to Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė.

“I am at least glad that people were able to return home after surgery, after procedures were done. But it shows that it’s serious, very serious, and that riots were initiated and it was not just some expressions of an opinion or a position,” Bilotaitė said during a meeting with opposition MPs of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

“Citizens of Lithuania have the right to express their political views and stances in legal ways. I regret that Lithuanian institutions had to be protected from aggressive action,” Bilotaitė said.

Police Commissioner General Renatas Požėla told a news conference on Wednesday that police officers had suffered minor injuries and were being treated at home, but the VST officers had been injured more seriously.

VST Commander Ričardas Pocius said at the same news conference that six officers had been injured and one had suffered a concussion.

Eight vehicles were damaged during the riots outside the Seimas building.

Eight participants of the rally also sought medical assistance, possibly because of exposure to teargas, according to the police.

Bilotaitė said she had no information about protesters having been injured during the clashes.

Riot police dispersed the crowd of remaining protesters at around 02:00, using shields and teargas.

Around 5,000 people gathered outside the parliament building on Tuesday at noon to protest the government's planned restrictions for people without Covid-19 immunity.

Read more: Protesters clash with police as rally outside Lithuanian parliament turns violent

When the parliamentary sitting on Tuesday ended, some protesters blocked exits from the parliament and the driveway into the parliament's internal courtyard. As officers attempted to push people away, riots broke out and officers were pelted with bottles, flares. Teargas was used against protesters.

Gagas also confirmed that several pyrotechnic devices were used and stressed that officers were not the ones who used them.

“I assure that the police did not use sound grenades or anything else. Those were explosives, pyrotechnic products used by the protesters, the riot side,” he said.

According to Gagas, there were two explosions and police officers later found more unexploded petards.

Some 70 police officers were sent in to ensure public order.

At around 21:30, a female officer who worked outside the parliament was taken to a Vilnius hospital and later released to continue treatment at home.

A police protocol was produced for a man, 34, who got into an argument with the protesters while under the influence of alcohol.

Another man, 23, was detained under suspicions of drug possession, and taken into custody.

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