EU unable to pressure Moscow to cooperate in Lithuanian coup trial, says Ambassador

Vygaudas Ušackas
Asmeninio archyvo nuotr.

In an interview to BNS Lithuania, Ušackas said that the issue had been earlier raised in the framework of the dialogue on law and justice, but this became difficult after the EU lost contacts with relevant Russian ministries and prosecutors.

“The issue of cooperation in the January 13 coup case was raised when there was a dialogue on law and justice in our relations,” said Ušackas, a Lithuanian diplomat.

“However, the official dialogues and ministerial meetings are on hold over the past years, we actually have no contacts with officials of Russia’s Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry or the prosecutor’s office. Therefore, we have to admit that raising these issues under the current circumstances is very difficult, if possible at all,” said the ambassador.

In June, a Vilnius court opened hearings into the case where more than 60 people are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Soviet aggression in Lithuania in January 1991.

Russia has refused to interview then Soviet Union’s leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the case or extradite suspects.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized the January 1991 case, saying Russian citizens were subjected to unlawful persecution.

“The actions for which the Russians are being charged in Lithuania are interpreted in a biased manner, abusing international law,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian ministry, has said.

Fourteen unarmed Lithuanian civilians were killed in early hours of January 13, 1991, when the Soviet Union’s units attacked the Vilnius TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building.

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