On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Yuri Mel, a Russian military officer who was convicted in Lithuania’s January 13 case and was imprisoned, has returned to Moscow.
Mel was convicted for his role in the Soviet aggression in January 1991. Fourteen people were killed when Soviet troops attempted to topple the Lithuanian government, which had declared independence a year prior. Mel, a tank driver, was among 67 people found guilty in 2019 of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Most of the people were convicted in absentia.
Read more: January 13, 1991. The night when Lithuania faced Soviet troops – through the eyes of ordinary people
Later on Friday, Mel's lawyer Ryšardas Burda confirmed he had left Lithuania after serving out his prison sentence.
"I confirm the fact that he crossed the Lithuanian-Russian border in front of my eyes and ended up on the territory of the Russian Federation," Burda said.
He was detained in March 2014 and jailed for seven years, with the sentence increasing to ten years. In 2022, Lithuania’s Supreme Court reduced his sentence to nine years.
Russia denies its role in the January 1991 events, claiming Mel was wrongly imprisoned.