Ethnic Hostility Will Not Be Tolerated, Says Mayor Following Cleanup of Defaced Russian-Language Sign
The defaced sign on “Rusų g.”/”Русская Ул.”
After a new Russian-language sign marking Russian Street (“Rusų g.”/”Русская Ул.”) was defaced by vandals on September 4, the Municipality was quick to demonstrate its commitment to an open and friendly city by removing the markings within 24 hours and re-emphasizing that vandalism and ethnic hostility will not be tolerated.
On September 4, signs in Russian and Polish were unveiled marking Russian Street and Warsaw Street, respectively. The former was vandalised later in the day.
„Vilnius will remain a friendly and open city,“ said Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius in response to the act. „We will tolerate neither vandalism nor hostility towards any ethnic group. More signs celebrating ethnic diversity in Vilnius past and present will be appearing around the city in the future.“
Mayor Šimašius unveils the sign on Russian Street with the Chairman of Vilnius Municipality’s Education, Sport and Culture Committee, Vytautas Mitalas
Šimašius meets September 6 with acting head of Vilnius police Rolandas Kiškis to discuss the act of vandalism and other issues. The Municipality confirmed that police will begin an investigation into whether the act was a violation of public order under the Lithuanian Criminal Code. Police will also confirm whether the act was caught on CCTV cameras in the immediate vicinity.
The signs on Russian and Warsaw Streets are the latest in a series that celebrates nations and ethnic and other groups that have played a significant role in the history of the city.
Icelandic Street was the first to be marked in two languages with a sign in Icelandic appearing under the standard Lithuanian street sign in early 2016. (Iceland was the first country to recognise the reestablishment of Lithuanian independence in 1990.) This was followed by placement of a sign in English marking Washington Square this summer.
Vilnius Municipality aims to continue its policy of celebrating openness and the city’s multicultural heritage with Jewish, Karaite, Tatar, and other street signs appearing soon.
All photos by Saulius Žiūros.