Russia reopens criminal cases against Lithuanians who refused to serve in Soviet army

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

“We have received such request for legal assistance. As the activities, which Russia lists among criminal deeds, is not criminalized in Lithuania, the request for legal assistance will not be processed,” Vilma Mažonė of the Prosecutor General’s Office told BNS.

The Prosecutor General’s Office refused to reveal further details of the case.

Russia may bring criminal charges against the citizens of Lithuania who left the Soviet army or refused to serve there after Lithuania declared independence on 11 March 1990.

Some of the young men were abducted and transported to Soviet army units by force, some were sent to jail, a few died during persecution by Soviet army officers, while others returned to the Soviet military units in fears for their own or their family’s safety, some escaped the Soviet army by hiding.

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

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

Advised against travelling outside EU and NATO

The Lithuanian State Security Department has strongly advised that citizens who obeyed the government’s call and refused to serve in the Soviet army in 1990–1991 not travel to Russia, Belarus and other countries outside the European Union (EU) and NATO for now.

“The State Security Department strongly urges the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who listened to the Lithuanian government’s call and refused to serve in the Soviet army to refrain from travels to Russia, Belarus and other countries that are not members of the European Union or NATO. Amid the current international situation, travels to these countries can jeopardize personal safety of the citizens,” the department said in a press release on Monday.

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