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Lithuanians protest as electricity bills soar after nuclear power station shutdown

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Lithuanians protest as electricity bills soar after nuclear power station shutdown

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Between 3,000 and 5,000 people demonstrated in the Lithuanian town of Visaginas to protest at a four-fold rise in electricity prices following the closure of the local nuclear power plant.

The EU insisted on the closure of the Soviet-era Ignalina plant as a condition of Lithuania’s membership of the bloc. But trade unions claim the move has devastated the local economy.

“After paying my utility bills, I have got 17 euros left,” said one woman. “I do not know how I can survive with that. That is why I am here. Maybe there is grass that grows here in Lithuania that you can eat?”

Lithuania has promised 24 million euros of aid for the region. But Ignalina was the major employer for the mainly Russian-speaking local community and Lithuania’s economic crisis provides a difficult context for regional regeneration.