More fights over Vilnius space: nationalists are kosher?

Article published on March 16, 2010
community published
Article published on March 16, 2010
As I wrote earlier, the municipality of Vilnius did not allow the Baltic Pride demonstration (against the discrimination and stereotyping of homosexuals), planned in May, to take place in the new premises where most protests will be pushed to, presumably because it is the territory of an ancient Jewish cemetery.
However, Delfi writes that the municipality allowed the 'patriotic' march, which happens already the third time on the Independence Day, without any discussion with the Department of Cultural Heritage. One thing that may explain a part of it is the fact that it was a parliament member, Kazimieras Uoka from the Conservative-Christian Democratic faction, who asked the municipality for the permission to organise the march and assumed responsibility for it.

In 2008, LIthuanians and foreigners were in shock to see how the 'patriotic' march, at the time on Gedimino ave., turned into a neo-nazi demonstration, with anti-Russian and anti-Semitic slogans. The police filmed the participants, but was reluctant to arrest them in the beginning. The next year, in 2009, the website (a discussion forum popular among the far right and some 'patriotic' moderates) asked the participants of the march for "no sympathy to the ideologies of communism and nazism" and "no hate incitement in posters, slogans and flags". The right-wing demonstration went peacefully and without incitement of hate, yet the parallel anti-nationalist demonstration "the funeral of democracy" was met with rather aggressive resistance, and quite soon invited its participants to identify the participants of that demonstration. In a few days, one of the participants of the anti-nationalist demonstration was beaten up.

This year (it's the third year that I'm not in the country on the Independence Day, so I have to rely on testimonies) there was no hate incitement, yet the participants shouted (see video), "Lithuania for Lithuanians!" Mr. Uoka only found this slogan 'monotonous', while the Human Rights Monitoring Istitute expressed concern over the agitation for a mono-ethnic state. Personally, I think that the 'patriotic' march is an obvious attempt to monopolise the term 'patriot' and 'patriotism', and 'steal' the Independence Day from the non-right-wing population. Unlike many other national holidays (the crowning of King Mindaugas, the Zalgiris battle, and even the first Independence Day), this day is a celebration of the modern Lithuanian democracy and resistance to the oppressive Soviet regime, so it is also important for moderates and left-wing people. However, the increasingly radical right would prefer to see these people as not belonging neither to Lithuania nor to this day. The way to achieve it is, of course, monopolising March 11th, taking control of public spaces that day, pushing all the alternative voices to the shade, and normalising ethno-nationalist skinhead demonstrations as a true expression of patriotism. When an MP patronises over a demonstration with skinheads and ethno-nationalist slogans, while pro-democratic groups cannot get a permission to demonstrate at all (in 2009, they didn't get a premission to organise a demonstration of more than 9 people), soon enough moderates and left-wingers will feel anything but at home in the city on this important day. In the struggle over public space, the municipal government clearly prioritises one lifestyle over others.

So how about the former cemetery? I think with the two demonstrations as points of comparison, I don't even have to bother to spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y...

For comparison: far-right demonstration in Budapest.