Lithuanian foreign minister: Prosecution of Soviet army deserters is absurd as Russia has denied continuity with USSR

Linas Linkevičius
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

“I think it is absurd, such statements seem strange to me also because they deny all the pledges made by Russia in due time that Russia and the Soviet Union cannot be equated, that the countries are entirely different and Russia should not inherit all the sins that were performed in the name of the Soviet Union,” Linkevičius told BNS.

Russia’s law-enforcement wants to reopen criminal investigations of the cases when young people of Lithuania listened to the call of the Lithuanian administration to quit service in the Soviet army after the country declared independence from the Soviet Union on 11 March 1990. The Lithuanian Prosecutor General‘s Office has reportedly received a request for legal assistance from Russia about a Lithuanian citizen who refused to serve in the Soviet army.

In Linkevičius’ words, the Russian decisions will not be a threat Lithuania cannot handle. At the same time, he emphasized that Lithuanian prosecutors would not provide any legal assistance to Russian institutions, as refusal to serve in a foreign army is not considered a crime in Lithuania.

“This is not a threat to Lithuania’s national security but, of course, it creates an atmosphere of mistrust, the actions are fully unnecessary and even absurd,” said the minister.

According to data provided by the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence, 1,562 young people refused compulsory service in the Soviet army after 11 March 1990, including 67 who were taken to Soviet military units by force, 20 who were sentenced to jail terms, three faced criminal charges and three died.

1,465 more were forced to go into hiding, change their place of residence and leave families to avoid military service or repressions by the Soviet administration.

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