Posted on Nov 29, 2019
In the text adopted by 493 votes in favour, 43 against and 86 abstentions by the European Parliament this week, MEPs called on Russia to end the politically motivated prosecution of Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who found 67 Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian citizens guilty of war crimes against Lithuania, following the events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.
Parliament denounced Russia’s actions as “unacceptable external influence”, “politically motivated” and a violation of fundamental legal values, especially the independence of judiciary.
MEPs asked all member states to not transfer any personal data to Russia that could be used in criminal proceedings against Lithuanian judges as well as to refuse Russia’s requests for related legal assistance. EU countries and Interpol should also ignore all international arrest warrants against the accused Lithuanian officials, they said.
They also call for EU member states to be more consistent in their policies towards Russia.
On 13 January 1991, following Lithuania’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, fourteen peaceful civilians were killed by Red Army troops. One Lithuanian soldier also died, and nearly 800 people were wounded during a crackdown by Soviet troops on the Vilnius TV tower.
In March 2019, a Lithuanian Court issued a ruling on this act of aggression against Lithuania by finding 67 people, including the then Defence minister and KGB chief of the Soviet Union, guilty of war crimes.
Russia did not respond to the Lithuanian judiciary’s request for cooperation, and so the majority of those accused were put on trial in absentia.
In 2018, Russia retaliated by starting a criminal case against the Lithuanian judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in investigating the tragic events on 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.
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