About 1,000 people took part in a controversial rally organized by the Union of National Youth in central Vilnius, chanting slogans "Lithuania for Lithuanians". The event was held on March 11, when Lithuania celebrated the 26th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union.
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Holding posters "Proud to Be Lithuanian", the participants carried Lithuania's national and historic flags when they marched on Gedimino Avenue from the Cathedral Square to the Independence Square.

The Union of National Youth had received a permission from the Vilnius City Municipality for a rally involving up to 10,000 people.

The Jewish Community of Lithuania had expressed concerns over the rally. In a statement issued a few days before, it recommended the government and the municipalities of Vilnius and Kaunas to take measures against "neo-Nazi chants, rallies and other symbols and events of this kind" during independence festivities.

According to the statement, last year's rallies organized by the Union of National Youth featured "Nazi and racist symbols as well as chants expressing segregationist ideas".

Julius Panka, one of the leaders of the union, dismissed the accusations as slander.

At Friday noon, a parade of about 3,000 people with no chants led by the Lithuanian army's Guard or Honour and orchestra marched in the opposite direction – from the Independence Square to the Cathedral Square.

On Friday, Lithuania celebrated the Day of Restoration of Statehood. Headed by Vytautas Landsbergis, the Supreme Council of Lithuania adopted the Act of Restoration of Statehood in late hours of March 11, 1990, making the Baltic state the first Soviet republic to secede from the USSR.

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