THE HEAD OF THE Lithuanian Catholic bishops' conference has condemned riots that erupted during a protest against government economic policies.
"We must protect our state and not ruin it. Living in democracy means protecting one's rights by legitimate means... but that must be done peacefully and legally, without resorting to violence," said Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius of Kaunas.
Some 6,000 people had gathered at the parliament building in Vilnius answering the call of trade unions to protest against he new centre-right coalition's plan to raise taxes in an effort to combat a recession and decrease the budget deficit.
But the event quickly turned into riots, which led police and special forces to use tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the crowd from ruining the building and causing further damage. Two days earlier, a similar scenario unfolded in Riga, the capital of Latvia.