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2020.05.06 08:00

Mission Siberia 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus

Mission Siberia, an annual expedition organised to tend to graves of Lithuanian deportees and political prisoners in Russia, has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers said on Tuesday.

Aistė Eidukaitytė, the head of the project, said the main reason was the uncertainty about when quarantine restrictions in Lithuania and other countries would be lifted.

Read more: Mission Siberia returns – participants record oral history, build shrines

“As the expedition requires a lot of preparation and we want to have all the information as early as possible, we decided that we couldn't go on the expedition this year,” Eidukaitytė told BNS.

“We'll start preparing for the 2021 expedition right away,” she added.

Eidukaitytė said the exact destination for this year's expedition had not been chosen yet.

Mission Siberia teams could not go to Siberia in 2018 and 2019 after being denied visas by the Russian embassy to Lithuania, but they travelled to Kazakhstan instead, the project's leader said.

“We always found a way out of the situation, but this won't work this time,” she added.

Mission Siberia was first organised in 2006. Since then, the participants visited and cleaned up over 170 Lithuanian burial sites in Siberia and other former Soviet republics.

“We celebrate our 15th anniversary this year. For the first time in all those years, the expedition won't be leaving,” Eidukaitytė said.

Some 275,000 people from Lithuania were sent to forced labour camps or deported during the Soviet occupation period.