VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania officials have condemned the actions of a Chinese tourist who vandalized the Baltic country's top religious heritage site.
A video, originally posted on Instagram in November but that came to the Lithuanian public’s attention over the weekend, shows a woman removing a wooden cross that expressed support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement from the Hill of Crosses, a large mount adorned with tens of thousands of crosses left by pilgrims and visitors.
“We have done a good thing today. Our motherland is great,” she is heard saying after throwing the cross away.
The incident does not seem to be isolated. Another photo posted online shows graffiti on another cross dated later in November that reads “Hope all cockroaches soon rest in peace. Hope HK can return to peace.”
Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius condemned the action as a “shameful, disgraceful act of vandalism” on Twitter, adding that such behavior “can’t and won’t be tolerated.”
Police have launched an investigation into both incidents at the site in northern Lithuania once visited by Pope John Paul II who declared it a place of hope, peace, love and sacrifice.
Ten of thousands effigies and rosaries of various sizes and shapes are placed on the hill, used for centuries by Catholic pilgrims and Lithuanian patriots. Successive Russian regimes occupying the country attempted to demolish the site several times during the 19th and 20th centuries, but new crosses were erected again and today it’s one of Lithuania’s top tourism destinations.