Baltics: Violence from an Argentina-style collapse
The riots on the streets of Vilnius and Riga in the Baltics are not being covered in the least in the U.S. media (Hat tip Ken). I believe they should because, as with Greece, the social unrest we are witnessing in those countries is the likely outcome of failed economic policies and depression. This was certainly the case during the Great Depression in the United States. While we are not seeing Argentina-level social unrest yet, these events are forerunners of a more ominous social climate.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets Friday to disperse anti-government protesters who were throwing rocks and eggs at Lithuania’s Parliament.
The Interior Ministry said 15 people were injured, including four policeman. One protester lost a finger to a rubber bullet, police said. About a dozen windows on the Parliament building, in downtown Vilnius, were shattered.
Some 7,000 protesters had gathered outside Parliament on Friday morning to demonstrate against reforms aimed at easing the economic crisis. The violence started when police pushed away protesters who were demanding to see the parliamentary speaker.
By evening Vilnius was quiet. Police said more 82 people had been detained.
“According to police information, this is a well orchestrated action against Lithuania,” Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius told journalists.
“There are forces that are interested in destabilization and chaos in Lithuania, and they are using the public’s dismay over painful reforms to achieve their hostile plans,” Kubilius said, adding that police knew who was responsible.
Kubilius’ center-right coalition, in power less than two months, has been criticized for tax increases the government said were needed to shore up state finances. On Friday, Lithuania’s Finance Ministry announced it intended to borrow €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) from the European Investment Bank to plug a yawning budget gap. The Baltic country’s economy is expected to enter a recession this year.
Liucija Mukiene, a 63-year-old retiree, said the government was arrogant and corrupt.
“We are here today because this government is mocking us,” she said. “They taking away our last money and providing nothing. I am fed up with the lies, corruption and those grinning, fat faces behind the windows of Parliament.”
The clash echoes violent protests this week in Latvia and Bulgaria, and recent demonstrations in Greece, as a wave of discontent over economic woes, difficult reforms and government corruption sweeps through parts of Europe.
In Latvia, police detained more than 100 people Tuesday after protesters pelted police with rocks.
Protesters clash with police in Lithuania – IHT Europe
Baltic Protests Erupt as EU’s Worst Economies Shake – Bloomberg.com
Around 7,000 protest anti-crisis measures in Lithuanian capital – RIA Novosti
Thousands protest against government in Lithuania – Forbes.com