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06 May 2021, 15:16

Car rally in Vilnius protesting against blocking of Belarus sanatorium account

MINSK, 6 May (BelTA) – Workers of the Belarus sanatorium have joined a motor rally in Vilnius to protest against the blocking of the bank account of the Belarusian healthcare facility, BelTA has learned.

The motorcade is led by Druskininkai Mayor Ricardas Malinauskas. The event is running along the route Swedbank-Presidency-Prime Minister's Chancellery-Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Seimas. The event has drawn more than 70 cars.

Residents of Druskininkai, where the Belarusian sanatorium is based, are protesting against the closure of the facility, which was affected by the EU sanctions against Belarus.

According to, the mayor of Druskininkai did not shy away to criticize the authorities. “This is not the rule of law. This is the rule of banditry,” said Ricardas Malinauskas.

Belarus sanatorium is the first case in the history of Lithuania when international sanctions have been applied against the company operating in the country. When the sanctions were imposed, Swedbank froze the sanatorium's accounts.

The protest was supported by the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation. Its president Inga Ruginiene said that the European agencies did not rule to apply the sanctions. This social disaster is entirely due to the actions of the state who have failed to take care of its citizens.

“We are protesting against the arbitrariness of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We demand that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs admit guilt and not hide behind Swedbank. The last document we received from MP Bronis Rope proved that the sanatorium has not been included in any lists. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the situation,” said leader of the sanatorium trade union Vytautas Cesna.

Workers of the sanatorium have not been paid since January 2021. They blame the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the current situation and threaten that 400 families of sanatorium workers will go on a hunger strike if their demands are ignored. "If the authorities fail to pay attention to our protest, then this will mean that they want people to starve. If they want people to starve, next time we will gather near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 400 families, and declare a hunger strike," Vytautas Cesna assured.

Inga Ruginiene also confirmed that the sanctions against the sanatorium were imposed because of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. No one did anything to make sure people do not lose jobs. She wondered how sanctions can be imposed on the company that employs mostly Lithuanians and that does not generate profits. All the proceeds are spent to pay salaries and taxes.

Inga Ruginiene also drew attention to the specialization of the sanatorium: treatment of sick children with disabilities - citizens of Belarus. Thus, the sanctions were actually imposed not even against the Belarusian authorities but against ordinary citizens of both Belarus and Lithuania.

"What's next? There is no work in Druskininkai. Everybody knows that. The government has not committed to finding jobs for people," Inga Ruginiene said. "People want to work. They want to work honestly, pay taxes. Who would want to lose jobs and housing? These are families with children. It is a big social disaster."

It has been reported that the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has promised to start negotiations with Belarus on the actions around the sanatorium. At the end of April the Seimas committees on foreign affairs and social issues and labor proposed to authorize the government to start negotiations with Belarus on the transfer of the sanatorium to Lithuania. The government has been suggested to start consultations on the purchase of the buildings.

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