Lithuanian diplomats protest Soviet national anthem during judo tournament in Italy (Updated)

Jurgis Paplaitis
Updates throughout.

Rasa Jakilaitienė, spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, said that the Lithuanian embassy in Rome had sent a protest note to the Italian Foreign Ministry.

“This is an unfortunate incident and we are drawing the attention of the Italian Foreign Ministry (to it) to ensure that this will not happen again”, she told BNS.

According to the spokeswoman, the letter will also be sent to the Italian Judo Federation.

“The embassy to Italy expresses its protest to the local judo federation, because an anthem that was imposed on Lithuania by the occupying power was played during the tournament in Italy,” Jakilaitienė said.

“We demand an apology and (ask them to prevent) such things from occurring in the future,” she added.

The national anthem of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, which ceased to exist after Lithuania regained independence in 1990, was played for Lithuanian gold medallist Justina Kmieliauskaitė during the medal ceremony at the Cadet European Judo Cup in Follonica, in western Italy.

Justina Stalionė, secretary general at the Lithuanian Judo Federation, told BNS that the organizers had the right national anthem approved by the Lithuanian delegation.

“It’s hard say now why the wrong anthem was turned on at the event. It was impossible to quickly stop that,” she said.

According to Stalionė, there was some confusion among Lithuanians present at the ceremony when the Soviet-era anthem started playing.

“The organizers realized that something wrong was going on,” she said.

The federation has asked the European Judo Union to explain how the incident could have happened.

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