VILNIUS 's Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has formed a new working group to decide the future of the controversial Snipiskes Jewish cemetery in Vilnius.
The government reported Aug 27 that the work group has been tasked with providing the prime minister with a plan of action regarding proposed construction works on the site and the establishment of a suitable memorial by the end of the year. Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas was appointed the head of the work group.
Jewish groups oppose plans to construct apartment blocks on the site, claiming that the site remains sacred despite the fact that the last burials took place in the mid-19th century.
The cemetery was closed by Tsarist authorities in 1831 and the territory has already been partly developed, but further development has been put on hold, partly as a result of international opposition to the building works. U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has reportedly sent a letter to the Lithuanian government expressing her concern.
Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, Chaim Burshtein. has been quoted saying, "There is no such thing as a 'former' Jewish cemetery."