News

2020.01.09 09:30

Soviet aggression case handed to Court of Appeal in Lithuania

BNS2020.01.09 09:30

The January 13 Soviet aggression case was handed over to the Court of Appeal of Lithuania on Wednesday. 61 people appealed the ruling that sentenced 67 citizens of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine for war crimes and crimes against humanity

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were 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 sentences issued in March 2019 ranged from four to 14 years, but the majority of the defendants were sentenced in absentia as Russia and Belarus refused to extradite them.

The Court of Appeal is scheduled to start hearing the case on March 26. The court received over 760 volumes of case materials, including the 16-volume indictment.

Among those convicted also was Dmitry Yazov, 94, former Soviet defence minister, who was sentenced to ten years in prison in absentia.

Vladimir Uskhopchik, the Soviet Army's former Vilnius garrison commander, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and Mikhail Golovatov, a former KGB officer, received 12 years.

In response to the March ruling, Russia has opened a criminal case against against Lithuanian judges and prosecutors. Vilnius has asked Brussels for assistance, and in November 2019, MEPs adopted a resolution calling for Russia to "to terminate the criminal proceedings".

Read more: EP resolution calls on Russia to quit prosecuting Lithuanian judges

The Soviet Union used military force in an attempt to overthrow the government of Lithuania, which declared independence on March 11, 1990.