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2016.11.17 14:11

Lithuania sold M14 rifles donated by the US

Algirdas Acus 2016.11.17 14:11

Due to miscommunication between the state institutions Lithuania sold at a bargain the M14 sniper semi-automatic rifles handed over to the Lithuanian army disregarding the signed agreement (in 1999 and in 2002) banning re-sale of the donated weapons.

Most of M14 are still in use by the Lithuanian army, although mainly in ceremonies. In 2009, President Dalia Grybauskaitė tested the gun in a training ground. However, the army handed over 10 such weapons to the State Security Department, in 2001.
 

When State Security Department ceased using those guns they had been transmitted to the Lithuanian Weaponry Fund instead of returning them to the military. In its turn, State Security Department explains having not known about any additional limitations that apply to the M14.
 

‘About additional limitations Department was informed for the first time in the summer of 2016,’ said Kęstutis Budrys, Deputy Chief of the Lithuanian State Security Department.
 

The Weaponry Fund being not informed of the agreement banning the sale of M14 decided to sell the guns to private persons belonging to the paramilitary Lithuanian Riflemen Union. The fund sold 8 such weapons highly valued by collectors around the world at a very low price, 350 EUR each.
 

When the fact became known to the US, the American officials noted that Lithuania has violated an agreement not to sell the guns. In turn, Lithuanian Ministry of Defence ordered to return the purchased rifles.
 

Five of the guns were successfully returned as private buyers agreed to take a compensation equal to the price they bought the gun. However, 3 of the owners refuse to do so.
 

‘Those guns are originals, you could say from the Vietnam War, and they try to convince us that their collector’s value amounts to 10 or even up to 25 thousand dollars. Well, you know… neither we, nor the state can afford to pay such amount of money, and of course an agreement is impossible. So we will wait for the court decision on this issue’, said Jonas Šalavėjus, interim director of the Lithuanian Weaponry Fund.
 

Private buyers belonging to the paramilitary Lithuanian Riflemen Union claim that their M14 are needed for the defence of our country, and Chief of the Union supports his subordinates.
 

‘We should not look upon riflemen as a third party, they should be considered a part of our armed forces. I think this decision would be much more far-measured’ said Liudas Gumbinas, Head of the paramilitary Lithuanian Riflemen Union.
 

The situation is to be deliberated by the court. Lithuanian Minister of Defence Juozas Olekas called it ‘unpleasant’ stressing that Lithuania maintains constant links with the embassy of the United States and hopes to solve this issue soon.

M14 used by Lithuanian Army during a ceremony


Sound bite (Lithuanian)

KĘSTUTIS BUDRYS, Deputy Chief of the Lithuanian State Security Department:

‘About additional limitations applying to those guns Department was informed for the first time in the summer of 2016. We have two of them left, and we use them for training, but they must be returned to the Ministry of Defence, as the final user.’
 

A copy of M14 from the Weaponry Fund
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

JONAS ŠALAVĖJUS, Interim Director of the Lithuanian Weaponry Fund under Ministry of Interior:

‘Those guns are originals, you could say from the Vietnam War, and they try to convince us that their collector’s value amounts to 10 or even up to 25 thousand dollars. Well, you know… neither we, nor the state can afford to pay such amount of money, and of course an agreement is impossible. So we will wait for the court decision on this issue.’

2009, President Dalia Grybauskaitė shoots with M14
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

JUOZAS OLEKAS, Lithuanian Minister of Defence:

Of course, it is an unpleasant situation. Probably institutions that are responsible for munition safekeeping and maintenance, in this case State Security Department, normally should have returned those guns to Ministry of Defence, and it would be the end of the story. On our part, we took all the necessary measures.
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

JUOZAS OLEKAS, Lithuanian Minister of Defence:

We maintain constant links with the embassy of the United States, so we hope for this issue to be solved quite soon.
 

More of M14
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

LIUDAS GUMBINAS, Chief of the paramilitary Lithuanian Riflemen Union:

Today riflemen buy those guns with their own money and now it appears that they have to return them. I think that if we would think conceptually, we could solve this problem not by way of returning those several items, but by way of thinking about how to equip our riflemen.
Cutaway
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

LIUDAS GUMBINAS, Chief of the paramilitary Lithuanian Riflemen Union:

‘We should not look upon riflemen as a third party, they should be considered a part of our armed forces. I think this decision would be much more far-measured.’

A shot of Gumbinas with journalists