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Lithuanians rioting against health passports in front of parliament

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Lithuania – Around 5,000 demonstrators gathered in Vilnius in front of the Seimas, the national parliament, late on Tuesday afternoon. The purpose of the demonstration staged in the capital city of this Baltic state, which borders Poland and Belarus, was to protest against the government’s health passport plans, which include discriminatory restrictions against people who are not vaccinated for Covid-19.

Ten police officers injured, 26 protesters arrested

At the end of the demonstration, some of the crowd remained in front of the parliament building, blocking its exits, while the police used tear gas and some demonstrators started throwing stones and bottles at law enforcement officers. Ten police officers were injured – three of whom had to be hospitalized – and eight police vehicles were destroyed in clashes that are something very unusual in what is usually a very calm country. “The police intervened and dispersed the crowd. They arrested 26 people who were taken to the police station”, Vilnius police chief Saulius Gagas was quoted as saying by the public broadcaster LRT (Lietuvos nacionalinis radijas ir televizija).

“They had all carried out illegal actions, damaged police vehicles, [injured] officers, and an ambulance was also stoned […]. I must say that about ten police officers and public security agents were injured”,

he added. The rioters were finally dispersed only at around 2 a.m. On the morning of Wednesday 11 August, a 75-metre security perimeter was established by Lithuanian police around the parliament, while a metal fence was erected around the seat of government.

A very strict health passport regime

The Lithuanian authorities are planning a very strict health passport regime from mid-September. In particular, entry to restaurants or public transport will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated, while all civil servants will have to be either vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 on a regular basis, and the tests will not be free. Lithuanian trade unions also report numerous complaints from employees threatened with dismissal if they do not get vaccinated: “We have been responding to huge numbers of enquiries and calls for about a month now. The government had not even yet told us that it was going to introduce forced vaccination, but pressure was already being exerted at the workplace…”, explains Inga Ruginienė, the chairwoman of the Confederation of Lithuanian Trade Unions.

Some are threatened with redundancy, others are forced to buy protective equipment [at their own expense…]

Today, we have just received from the government […] an amendment to the law by which they want to legalize mandatory vaccinations. […] It is already stipulated there that an employer can fire you if you haven’t been vaccinated.”