News2019.11.05 12:00

Klaipėda council member loses seat over insulting partisan leader

Viačeslav Titov, a council member of Lithuania's third- biggest city, Klaipėda, has had his mandate revoked after court found him guilty of defaming a leader of the Lithuanian post-war anti-Soviet resistance.

The Central Electoral Commission (VRK) decided on Tuesday to discontinue Titov's powers as a council member before the expiration of his term of office.

Under the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils, a municipal councilor loses his or her seat once a court conviction comes into force.

In May, the Klaipėda District Court found Titov guilty of defaming the memory of a deceased person, incitement to hatred, and public approval or denial of Soviet crimes. The politician was fined 12,000 euros.

In mid-October, the Klaipėda Regional Court reduced the fine to 10,000 euros. The ruling took effect on October 17.

The investigation was launched in July 2018 after Titov said in a public discussion that Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, a partisan commander during the anti-Soviet guerilla war, was guilty for the killings of 8,000 people, including children, and that he personally pronounced the death sentences.

The politician claimed he based his statements about Ramanauskas-Vanagas on a Soviet court ruling. Historians say, however, that any research of the anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania cannot be based on Soviet sources alone, since KGB files are full of falsified accusations aimed at discrediting the partisans.

The Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court ruled last year that Titov had breached his oath as a council member by making such statements.

The judgment opened the way for impeaching Titov. The councilor resigned before an impeachment vote, but was reelected in the March 2019 municipal elections.

Ramanauskas-Vanagas was captured by Soviet authorities, tirtured and executed in 1957. His remains were discovered in 2018 and given a state funeral in Vilnius.

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