VILNIUS (Reuters) - A Belarusian man driving a Porsche sports car emblazoned with the red and yellow flag of the Soviet Union was denied entry into Lithuania on Tuesday on the grounds that the public display of such symbols in the Baltic country is illegal.
Under the rule of the former Soviet Union for almost half a century, Vilnius banned the public display of Soviet symbols in 2008, sparking protests from former colonial master Russia.
The bonnet of the offending Porsche 966 - driven by a 26-year-old man - had a giant Soviet flag painted on it complete with a yellow hammer and sickle symbol and star, Rokas Pukinskas, a spokesman for Lithuania’s state border guard service, told Reuters.
“The border guards suggested the driver leave his car behind and enter Lithuania by foot or by bus, which he refused to do”, Pukinskas added.
Belarus, ruled by former Soviet collective farm boss Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, revels in its past as one of the Soviet Union’s 15 republics and encourages nostalgia for the defunct state.
Lithuania and Hungary are the only two European Union countries to outlaw public displays of Soviet symbols. However, the fine of 500-1000 litas (150-280 euros) for violators in Lithuania is rarely issued.
Reporting by Andrius Sytas via Stockholm newsroom; Editing by Andrew Osborn