Rally in Vilnius demands release of political prisoners in Belarus

Over 100 mostly young people rallied in central Vilnius on Monday evening to demand the release of political prisoners in Belarus.

The Belarus support rally was staged in Vinco Kudirkos Square outside the government building to mark 30 years since the neighbouring nation declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

Some demonstrators held Belarusian historical white-red-white flags, portraits of political prisoners and posters reading, in English, “Freedom for political prisoners in Belarus” and “Stop political repressions in Belarus”.

MEP Andrius Kubilius of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, conservative MP Ingrida Šimonytė, and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the leader of the Liberal Movement, were also present.

Speeches by politicians and civic activists were followed by slogans from the crowd such as “Zhive Belarus” (Long Live Belarus).

“What the Lukashenko regime is doing is completely intolerable,” Kubilius told the rally. “Political prisoners must be released immediately. We demand it, and we will demand it loudly at the European Parliament, too”.

Vytis Jurkonis, a political scientist at Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute, described Monday’s rally as a symbolic gesture of support for Belarus.

“This is a symbolic act of stretching out hands from Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius to Minsk to say we are with you,” Jurkonis, one of the participants of the rally, told BNS.

“At the same time, it is necessary to raise awareness so that we do not talk about Belarus only from the geopolitical perspective, or only from the perspective of opposition to Lukashenko,” he said.


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