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2 Jul, 2008 14:07

Lithuania told to stop ‘anti-Russian activity’

The State Duma has called on Lithuania to end what it calls anti-Russian activity. It came after the U.S. suggested the former Soviet republic could become a base for its planned anti-missile shield in Europe and also followed the adoption of a ban on the

From Thursday, relics of the Soviet Union such as the hammer and sickle flag, the Soviet army uniform or the USSR's national anthem are forbidden in public.

Lithuania says the new law gives them a chance to move on from what they view as years of Soviet occupation, to leave this history behind. For Russia, the Soviet ban in Lithuania is an insult to its history.

Silence descended in the State Duma as a statement was adopted calling for Lithuania to put an end to what it referred to as anti-Russian actions.

“If they want to have good cooperation, good future, they’d better change their behaviour. This is the only way to have friends in Europe,” said State Duma Deputy Andrey Klimov.

But Lithuania says it has a right to let go.

Vilja Abramikiene, a member of the Lithuanian parliament, said it was a time “of two terrible and inhuman regimes. We don’t need any propaganda for either of them”.

But it is not just a question of symbols.

The Duma statement railed against U.S. suggestions Lithuania could become an alternative site for its anti-missile bases in Europe, saying this could force Russia to build up troops in Kaliningrad.

But Lithuania has its own gripes – the Druzhba oil pipeline from Russia closed in 2006 for repairs and has yet to re-open. And in April Lithuania blocked Russia’s renewed talks with the EU due to concerns over energy security.