VILNIUS—On our National Independence Day today, the 11th of March, approximately two hundred far-right nationalists and their sympathizers marched in the center of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, with permission of the city’s and national authorities. The march, following a route of many years’ standing, started at Cathedral Square and ended up in Lukiškės Square. But this year’s gathering was unusually short, taking up less than one hour. The main outlets of the Lithuanian media covered the event, generally obfuscating its far-right character.
What else makes this year’s march different from the marches of the previous years and from the march on February 16th? First, naturally, support for Ukraine, now under a vicious military campaign by Russian military forces, dominated the event. The rally was opened and closed by playing melodies and singing two national anthems: of Lithuania in Lithuanian and of Ukraine in Ukrainian.
Second, the provocative far-right slogan “Lietuva Lietuviams!” (Lithuania for Lithuanians!) was today used explicitly, featuring beforehand on the Facebook page banner preceding the event, thereby emphasizing the group’s fear of citizens, residents or refugees who are not pure ethnic Lithuanian (perhaps a contradiction to the professed support of Ukraine?). During the march, it was screamed out repeatedly. Defending History’s monitoring and reporting of the far-right marches starting back in 2008. Sometimes the far-right slogan, implying illegitimacy or no human rights for non-ethnic-Lithuanians in Lithuania, is at times reduced to a single chant word: “Lithuania! Lithuania! Lithuania!”