Viewing cable 06VILNIUS623
Title: PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER CONDEMN JEWISH CEMETERY VANDALISM

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VILNIUS6232006-07-05 13:08:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0623 1861308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051308Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0350
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000623 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958:N/A 
TAGS: PREL KNAR PHUM PGOV LH
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER CONDEMN JEWISH CEMETERY VANDALISM 
NEAR VILNIUS 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1. (U) Vandals tore down 22 monuments at a Jewish cemetery in 
Vilnius on June 24.  President Valdas Adamkus, acting Prime Minister 
Zigmantas Balcytis, and Vilnius City mayor Arturas Zuokas publicly 
condemned the desecration and urged local law enforcement to find 
and punish the perpetrators.  The city administration promised 
financial assistance for restoration of the monuments, and the 
police have launched an investigation.  The letter that our Mission 
sent condemning this act of intolerance to Jewish Community leader 
Simonas Alperavicius received national media attention.  End 
summary. 
 
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VANDALS DESECRATE JEWISH CEMETERY 
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¶2. (U) Vandals damaged 22 tombstones and other memorials at the 
Jewish cemetery in the Suderve District of Vilnius County on the 
night of June 24.  Alperavicius told journalists he believes that 
the vandalism could be related to the June 23, 1941, uprising in 
Kaunas, when anti-Soviet resistance carried out the first killings 
of local Jews.  Vilnius police launched a pre-trial investigation, 
but have not identified any suspects. 
 
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HEADS OF STATE REACT PROMPTLY, CITY PROMISES SUPPORT 
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¶3. (U) President Valdas Adamkus, acting Prime Minister Zigmantas 
Balcytis, and the Civil Democracy Party reacted quickly and 
decisively to the cemetery's desecration.  President Adamkus issued 
a statement condemning the act of vandalism and expressing his 
regret that "there are people in Lithuania who dare to desecrate the 
memory of the deceased."  Acting PM Balcytis also expressed 
condolence to the local Jewish community in a public statement, 
saying "vandals trampled not only the memory of the deceased, but 
also common human values that band together nations and communities. 
 It is painful that the grave of a local Jewish scholar who explored 
and enshrined Lithuanian language was also damaged."  Vilnius Mayor 
Arturas Zuokas also issued a public statement expressing his outrage 
at the act and promising to provide financial support to restore the 
damaged monuments. 
 
¶4. (U) The CDA sent a letter to Alperavicius on June 28 expressing 
regret for the fact that the vandalism occurred and calling on 
Lithuanians to promote tolerance and openness.  The letter also 
applauded the Lithuanian leaders who publicly condemned the 
vandalism and expressed admiration for the many Lithuanians who 
uphold the principles of tolerance and ethnic diversity.  The 
Mission publicized the letter in a press release.  The wire service 
BNS, Lithuanian National Radio, a leading daily newspaper (Kauno 
Diena), TV3's national evening news, and the web portal Omni all 
reported the letter on June 30 and July 1.  The Embassy's message 
reached an audience of approximately 500,000 through these media 
outlets. 
 
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COMMENT: AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE 
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¶5. (SBU) This sad event appears to be an isolated outbreak of 
vandalism rather than a sign of rising anti-Semitism.  Lithuania has 
not witnessed a Jewish cemetery desecration on this scale for 
several years.  Our Mission intentionally delayed release of its 
statement to allow Lithuanian leaders enough time to respond 
appropriately -- which they did.  Their responses were decisive and 
poignant, providing the GOL with an opportunity to highlight the 
need for greater tolerance in Lithuanian society. 
 
KELLY