News

2019.09.03 16:00

Lithuanian prosecutors refuse to investigate Vilnius' historical memory policies

BNS2019.09.03 16:00

Lithuanian prosecutors has refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius' decision to remove a memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika, a controversial Lithuanian military officer known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm).

The decision was made due to the absence misdemeanor or any offences, Rita Stundienė, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office, told BNS on Tuesday.

The decision comes in response to the requests made by Lietuvos Sąjudis, Kauno Forumas, the Lithuanian Association of Human Rights, as well as other persons, for an investigation.

Prosecutors found no evidence to support allegations Vilnius Mayor Šimasius and other municipal representatives insulted the deceased or incited hatred.

The applicants also asked for a pre-trial investigation into alleged unlawful renaming of the Vilnius alley named after controversial army officer and diplomat Kazys Škirpa, but prosecutors underlined that the matter had already been considered, and refused to start a probe.

The memorial plaque to Noreika, a pre-war Lithuanian military officer and an anti-Soviet resistance fighter also known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), was taken down in late July following the initiative of Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

He said he made the decision because Noreika, the head of Šiauliai County during the Nazi occupation, signed documents establishing a Jewish ghetto and expropriating Jewish property.

The move was welcomed by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and parts of the society, but also led to protests by Noreika supporters who point to the fact that he fought both against the Soviets and the Nazis, and was later imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp.

Read more: Protest in Vilnius against mayor's memory policies draws several hundred demonstrators

Also, in late July, Vilnius City Council decided to rename a street dedicated to Kazys Škirpa, a diplomat and an officer, who alongside military volunteers, raised the Lithuanian flag on the iconic Gediminas Hill in Vilnius in 1919. However, he was seen later to become an ardent supported of Nazi Germany, and issued anti-Semitic declarations while serving as an ambassador to Berlin before and during the Second World War.

Read more: Despite protests, Vilnius renames street dedicated to Škirpa 'who promoted Holocaust'