Lithuanian govt advises Plungė residents not to go festival in Russia
Lithuania's Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Science and Education have called on the authorities in the northwestern city of Plungė to cancel their plans to send young people to the art festival Novy Mir in Russia. The local mayor says this way young people's free will and expression possibilities are restricted.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it recommended the local municipality last year to halt cooperation with Russia's Krasnogorsk when an unplanned meeting with members of a Russian motorcycle club, The Night Wolves, openly supporting the Kremlin's aggressive policy, was organized for Lithuanian schoolchildren.
"So it's incomprehensible why after the last year's incident and the following MFA recommendation, the management of Plungė District Municipality are repeating the same mistakes," the ministry said.
The Ministry of Science and Education has also asked Plungė authorities for an explanation. "Children cannot be linked to controversial organizations, the more so, attend events or become a tool of other states' propaganda," the ministry said.
Plungė Mayor Audrius Klišonis, representing the Liberal Movement, says Plungė residents have taken part in the arts festival in Krasnogorsk for six years, and not schoolchildren but young people under-30 go there.
Besides, Latvians, Bulgarians, Belarusians and Germans also attend it, the mayor said.
"We are very happy when our basketball players go to Moscow and win against CSKA, as Žalgiris did. And when Plungė residents go and bring the main prize some four years in a row, we say that it's wrong. These are probably moments of cheap politicizing or hypocrisy," the mayor told BNS Lithuania.
"If we now ban these people who are young, smart, civic, patriotic to represent our country with our symbols, our flag, our language, aren’t we going back to the times of the former Soviet Union?" the mayor asked.