A Vilnius court on Thursday completed hearing the complaint filed by organizers of a nationalist rally who asked to annul the ban of the Lithuanian capital’s administration to march on central Gedimino Avenue on March 11 and provide a different venue for the event, with the ruling to be pronounced on Monday.
The Lithuanian Union of National Youth told the Vilnius administrative court that the municipality had imposed an artificial restriction upon the right to march along the Gedimino Avenue on March 11.
“They are artificially restricting our right to the March 11 rally and celebrations of the occasion. The municipality decided to build three stages on Gedimino Avenue, this has never happened over 22 years – this aims to block passage and restrict our rights,” Ricardas Cekutis, chairman of the Lithuanian National Center, said at the court hearing on Thursday.
The Lithuanian Union of National Youth leader Julius Panka told the court that the organizers found unacceptable the Upes Street offered by the municipality for the event.
Monika Razukaite, the municipality’s representative in court, asked the court to reject the union’s complaint, emphasizing that the right to gatherings may be restricted in certain cases.
“They say that our right is not absolute. However, the right to gatherings is not absolute and can be restricted, as stated by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. The right is not absolute and can be restricted in cases when it is needed to ensure public peace, rights and freedoms of other individuals. The municipality exercised the right,” Razukaite said.
The municipality said state institutions enjoy a priority right to choose the time and venue of events on public holidays.
Last year, the traditional nationalist rally on the Independence Day was attended by about 900 individuals.
Holding official flags, they changed Lithuania’s name and sang patriotic songs, however, some human rights defenders criticized the slogan “Lithuania for Lithuanians” and participation of skinheads in the event.
Lithuania celebrates March 11 as the Day of Restitution of Independence, marking the Independence Act signed in 1990 that restored Lithuania’s independence after 50-year Soviet occupation.