2019.11.28 17:15

EP resolution calls on Russia to quit prosecuting Lithuanian judges

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2019.11.28 17:15

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling on Russia to drop its criminal case against Lithuanian prosecutors and judges involved in the January 1991 crackdown case.

A Lithuanian court convicted over 60 Russian and Belarusian nationals, most of them in absentia, for involvement in the Soviet crackdown in Vilnius on January 13, 1991, which killed 14 civilians.

Soon after the verdict, Russia said it had launched criminal proceedings against the prosecutors and judges in the case.

In the resolution adopted in Strasbourg on Thursday, MEPs underlined that Moscow's actions were politically motivated and could not be considered legitimate.

“The European Parliament […] calls on the public authorities of the Russian Federation to terminate the criminal proceedings initiated against the Lithuanian prosecutors, investigators and judges in the 13 January case,” the resolution states.

European lawmakers also encouraged Russia and Belarus to respond to Lithuania’s requests for legal assistance in the January 13 case.

Russia said in July 2018 that it had launched an investigation against Lithuanian judges and prosecutors involved in the January 13 case. Moscow accused them of “unlawful prosecution of Russian citizens”.

Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis later confirmed that Lithuania received Russia's request for legal assistance in questioning two individuals convicted in the January 13 trial in Lithuania, but treated as victims in the Russian case.

Last March, Vilnius Regional Court convicted former Soviet Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and more than 60 other former Soviet officials and military officers for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The majority of them were handed prison sentences in absentia.

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more wounded when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.

The Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the legitimate government of Lithuania which had declared independence on March 11, 1990.

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