Protests Greet Belarusian President's Visit To Lithuania

VILNIUS -- Protests in the Lithuanian capital welcomed the official visit by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to Vilnius, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Demonstrators recreated the opposition's historical, white-and-red Belarusian national flag with thousands of paper birds on the river embankment near the Lithuanian parliament.

A huge poster with a crossed-out picture of a face with a moustache and a sign saying "No Country for Moustache!" was placed nearby.

When Lukashenka and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite started talks at the presidential palace, dozens of protesters picketed the building, saying that Lithuania should be against the oppression of democracy and the widespread human rights violations in Belarus.

Lukashenka's trip is a rare visit to a European Union country. Rights activists are particularly unhappy with Lukashenka's visit because it begins on the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of two opposition leaders who have not been seen in the last decade.

Lukashenka said after his talks with Grybauskaite that they had agreed on all issues that were discussed.

'Constructive Interaction'

He said at a Belarusian-Lithuanian economic forum that Minsk and Vilnius could jointly add to the "constructive interaction along the East-West axis."

He also expressed hope that the EU will lower Schengen visa costs for Belarusian citizens, which now cost 60 euros per visa.

Lukashenka said "such a situation is absolutely unacceptable and contradicts the statement that developing personal contacts is a key goal of unified Europe."



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