vilnius protest
A series of crackdowns aimed at anti-lockdown demonstrators in the US and EU show that the West applies a double standard to protests happening at home, while supporting unrest in Russia, one of Moscow's top diplomats has said.

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Moscow's Foreign Ministry, issued a statement on Tuesday arguing that Lithuania's support for unauthorized rallies in Russia earlier this year was sharply contrasted by the government's own domestic policies. "In January, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said that the situation in Russia, with the violent suppression of protests, is reminiscent of the Soviet era under Joseph Stalin," Zakharova quoted.

However, "in August this year, Lithuanian police are using tear gas against protestors outside the national parliament. There are casualties," she said. Again, she quoted Nausėda as having said, more recently, that "democracy is not anarchy and the freedom to protest is not the freedom to use violence."

"Why does all that democratic perfume and liberal flavor of our Western partners and their satellites suddenly disappear when it comes to managing the internal situation and suppressing protests at home?" Zakharova asked.

On Tuesday, police in Vilnius moved in to break up a demonstration outside the parliament that saw citizens protest against coronavirus rules. Activists blocked politicians from leaving the building, and authorities deployed tear gas to disperse the groups who, it is reported, threw stones and water bottles at officers in response.

Lithuania has become the home of a number of Russian opposition figures who were responsible for organizing unauthorized rallies at the beginning of the year in support of jailed anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny. Leonid Volkov, one of Navalny's top allies, coordinated two weekends of successive demonstrations in cities across the country from afar in Vilnius. Moscow officials have opened a case against him and a number of his associates in absentia.