Lithuania Bans Public Display of Soviet, Nazi Symbols, BBC Says

Michael Heath
June 18, 2008

June 18 (Bloomberg) — Lithuania’s parliament passed a law imposing the toughest restrictions in the former Soviet Union on the public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

It will be an offense in the Baltic state to publicly display images of Soviet and Nazi leaders as well as flags, emblems and badges showing the hammer and sickle or swastika, the BBC said. Equating Soviet and Nazi symbols will probably infuriate Russia, which views the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany as one of the greatest events in Russian history, the BBC said.

The law also prohibits the playing of the Soviet and Nazi anthems, according to the broadcaster, which added that it was unclear whether this extends to the current Russian national anthem that uses the Soviet music with different lyrics.

Russia occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939. Many Balts welcomed the Germans as liberators when they invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and some fought alongside the Nazis. The Soviets retook the Baltic states during the latter part of World War II and retained control until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.