Pension protesters 'storm' Parliament

  • 2007-07-04
  • Staff and wire reports

ENTRY DENIED: The accordion playing 'radicals' reportedly shouted at lawmakers but were kept out of theparliament itself by the building's crack security squad.

A group of mostly elderly protesters, riled by Parliament's decision to pay ex-MPs a special allowance far greater than national average pension, staged a demonstration in Vilnius' Independence Square on July 3 during which some of them reportedly attempted to storm the parliament building.
Members of public organizations, trade unions and the newly formed Pensioner Party picketed in front of the Parliament carrying posters that read "NO to MP Privileges!," while inside the building, lawmakers approved a draft law that set rates for a new allowance they will get once they leave office.
Under the scheme, the size of the payments depends on how long the MP has served, ranging from 20 percent of their parliamentary salary if they have served half a four-year term to 75 percent of their salary if they have served three terms or more.

"We are outraged about the parliament's decision to introduce rent [allowance for ex-parliamentarians], as today pensions are small, people cannot afford medicines, cannot subsist, and actually the rent is a huge privilege for members of Parliament," Vytautas Kacys, chairman of the Pensioner Party, told BNS.
Most protesters were elderly people angered by the huge gap between their meager pensions and the former MP allowances.
Jolanta Anskaitiene, Chief specialist for the Seimas' Public Relations Division, told The Baltic Times that the group numbered approximately 70 - 80 people, and that the action was peaceful.
"They spoke to members of the parliament [outside] and handed them a petition, but nothing more serious," she said.

However, BNS reports that a group of radical-minded individuals persistently urged the picketers to storm the parliament.
These "radicals" were playing an accordion, shouting at the parliamentary reception area and taunting members of Parliament, but did not make their way past the security that was guarding the building's doors, the wire service reported. 
The public tends to believe that the allowance for ex-MPs is an unjust privilege for members of Parliament.