About 50 people gathered near the headquarters of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in Vilnius Monday. One group protested against, the other counter=protested for the leadership of the LJC.
The group against protested the process of electing the chairman of the community and the way state funds are disbursed, while the other group expressed support for LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. The protest took place Monday during the annual reporting conference of the LJC which is to adopt financial and activities reports. Today also marks one year since Kukliansky was elected chairwoman for a second time.
We Don’t Need a Queen
Protestors said last year the election process was changed before elections took place, limiting the power of the regional Jewish organizations and leading to Kukliansky’s victory.
Signs in Lithuanian and English called for an end to “despotism” within the LJC and one read “We don’t need a queen.”
One protestor characterized Kukliansky as the leader of a gang engaged exclusively in embezzling state funds without concern for Jewish culture and education.
Protest organizer Simonas Gurevičius claimed Jews from the larger Lithuanian cities and Ukmergė came to his event.
Counter-Protestors Call for Unity
More than a dozen Kukliansky supporters held a counter-protest with signs such as: “No to pitting Jews against each other. We’re for unity, not money.”
Chairwoman Kukliansky also arrived at the site and said the small number of protestors showed Gurevičius doesn’t have the support of the majority of Lithuanian Jews.
Kukliansky said she had been elected fairly and in line with the Lithuanian law on associations. Gurevičius contested those elections but failed to win a majority.
“Any attorney who hears me today and knows the law on associations will not have any such questions,” she said. “Last year Gurevičius was allowed to stand in elections to the chair in which 31 representatives of organizations participated. And no one, not even his friends, voted for him,” she noted.
LJC executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas said accusations about the opaque allocation of Goodwill Foundation funds were unfounded. “This is not even theoretically possible because Goodwill Foundation funds are strictly supervised by the Office of State Auditor and Lithuanian Jewish Community projects and activities are also subjected to independent audit and international auditing companies,” he noted.
Several police officers maintained order at the event and private security guarded the entrance to the LJC building. According to the 2011 census, about 3,000 Jews live in Lithuania.
Full story in Lithuanian here.