2021.07.05 12:03

Lithuanian man to sue Gorbachev over Soviet crackdown in Vilnius

BNS2021.07.05 12:03

A man in Lithuania has announced plans to sue Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, for damages over the bloody crackdown in Vilnius in January 1991.

Robertas Povilaitis, whose father died during the attack, plans to file a civil lawsuit in a Lithuanian court in fall.

“Gorbachev has not appeared in the criminal case, institutions have not undertaken any prosecution against him and his role and liability have not been assessed,” Povilaitis told BNS.

The January 13 criminal case, which had already led to the sentencing of 67 individuals, had failed to assess the role and liability of Gorbachev as the Soviet president and commander-in-chief, according to Povilaitis.

“The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania has refused to raise the issue of Gorbachev’s liability in criminal proceedings, therefore, being a citizen, I want to raise the issue of Gorbachev’s liability for the January 13 crackdown in civil proceedings and file a civil lawsuit against him,” Povilaitis told BNS.

“I spent many years trying to convince prosecutors to open a pre-trial investigation into negligence on the part of the leader and the commander-in-chief. Prosecutors used to refuse firmly to open such an investigation, which left me with the last option – to raise the issue of liability personally,” he added.

Read more: Gorbachev at 90. Last Soviet leader divides opinion in Lithuania

“Lower-ranked officers have all been prosecuted but the commander-in-chief has avoided any charges, it looks like some kind of a misunderstanding,” Povilaitis said.

He refused to specify the amount of the lawsuit saying that it was not an essential aspect of his action. He also doubted that efforts to recover damages would be successful.

Povilaitis and his mother were awarded non-pecuniary damages in the January 13 criminal case, in which the accused – 67 individuals – were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and issued prison sentences ranging from four to 14 years.

The court then ordered the convicts to jointly pay 50,000 euros in damages to victim Robertas Povilaitis, 75,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to Ona Povilaitiene, and 10.8 million euros in pecuniary damages to the State of Lithuania.

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