Vilnius - Lithuania said on Friday it will provide free
medical assistance to Ukrainians injured in violent protests in Kiev in a show
of support for the pro-EU opposition.
The first group will include around 10 wounded protesters
and will arrive in the Baltic state on Monday for treatment and physiotherapy,
Lithuanian presidential advisor Jovita Neliupsiene told AFP.
She said the offer of treatment was Lithuania's way of
showing "support for Ukrainian democratic and European aspirations".
Officials in the EU member have not yet decided whether
they will fly in the injured or use ground transportation, nor whether they
will widen their assistance to more protesters, Lithuanian foreign ministry
spokesperson Rasa Jakilaitiene told AFP.
At least two people have died and hundreds have been
injured in several days of clashes between protesters and Ukrainian security
forces of the Russia-backed government.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite summoned the
Ukrainian ambassador on Friday and "strongly condemned the violence
The violence has horrified Ukrainians, who have never
witnessed such scenes at home - including during the 2004 Orange Revolution,
which was almost entirely peaceful.
During its stint as EU president last year, Lithuania
played a key role in efforts to seal an EU association pact with Ukraine.
But under pressure from Russia, Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement at a November summit in the
Lithuanian capital Vilnius, triggering the start of protests against him by
Both ex-Soviet republics, Lithuania and Ukraine took
different paths following their independence from the crumbling Soviet Union in
Tiny Lithuania sought to secure its independence by
joining the EU and Nato in 2004, sparking ire in Moscow, while much larger
Ukraine fostered ties with both Russia and the EU.