2021.01.08 13:54

Two Lithuanian citizens accused of spying for Russia

BNS2021.01.08 13:54

On Friday, Lithuania’s prosecutors announced that an investigation into two Lithuanian citizens accused of spying for Russia was handed over to court.

Although the two individuals were not working together, they are suspected of being in contact with the same Russian FSB officer in Kaliningrad, according to the prosecution service.

The officer at the Federal Security Service (FSB) speaks fluent Lithuanian and uses a fake identity, according to the country’s authorities.

Prosecutors said they got evidence against the suspected from the State Security Department, Lithuania's intelligence agency.

Elena Martinonienė, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office, confirmed it was the same investigation reported last March. It involved a Klaipėda councilwoman Ela Andrejeva who was detained, but later given the status of a special witness.

Read more: City council member involved in spying investigation in Klaipėda

Dovile Saulėnienė, a spokeswoman for Klaipėda Regional Prosecutor's Office, told BNS the suspects were Aleksejus Greičius, a public figure and managing director of the Baltic Youth Association Juvenis, and Mindaugas Tunikaitis.

A resident of Pagėgiai, which is close to the border with Kaliningrad, Tunikaitis ran for the local council with the political party Lithuania's List in 2015.

Meanwhile Greičius ran for Klaipėda Council in 2015 on the Lithuanian Russian Union's candidate list alongside Andrejeva.

According to the investigation, one of the defendants, Tunikaitis, came into the Russian intelligence's focus back in 2014.

Communication with the FSB officer started after he crossed a Lithuanian-Russian border checkpoint. The officer introduced himself as Petras and asked Tunikaitis to buy him a calendar or a bottle of wine in Lithuania. Later on, according to law enforcement, the relationship evolved into Tunikaitis taking “anti-Lithuanian” tasks.

He had to take photos of specific objects, collect information on individuals, attend events, hand over publications and publish information given by the FSB officer, among other tasks.

According to the investigation, Tunikaitis received cash rewards which were named “support for health” or “compensation” for visa fees.

The second defendant, Greičius, met the same Russian intelligence officer in 2016 on social media. According to law enforcement, he led a public organisation and therefore was not surprised to receive a private message asking about its activities. The exchange of messages lasted several months, and later the defendant met with the officer, who introduced himself as Piotr, in Sovetsk, Kaliningrad.

Investigators believe that the two agreed that Piotr would fully or partially fund events organised by Greičius' organisation.

The defendant also agreed to take photos and videos of the events and hand over the material to Piotr. He also committed to collect information about the events, prepare and publish articles on designated Lithuanian media outlets.

The investigation found that there were at least ten events funded by Piotr.

The defendant continued his communication with Piotr even after State Security Department officers warned him that he was a Russian FSB officer.

“The defendant signed to have been informed that any communication with this person, execution of his tasks could be viewed as spying or assistance to another state to act against the Republic of Lithuania, but he chose to continue this unlawful communication,” the prosecution service said in a statement.

Greičius also allegedly introduced Piotr to other potential collaborators and also collected information for him.

Both Greičius and Tunikaitis were detained in early March last year.