Russia is reopening criminal investigations against Lithuanian residents who refused to serve in the Soviet army
Russia is reopening criminal investigations against Lithuanian residents who refused to serve in the Soviet army after Lithuania declared its independence in 1990, before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Moscow wants to prosecute young Lithuanians who went ‘absent without leave’ following their country’s declaration of independence in 1990.
Lithuania’s prosecutor general’s office says the same request from Moscow has been made before.
“About 10 years ago a similar request was received by the prosecutor’s office and it was considered at the time but the decision as now was taken to refuse to grant legal assistance.”, explains spokesperson Elena Martinoniene.
An estimated 1500 young people refused service in the Soviet Army after March 1990.
The Lithuanian State Security Department said it strongly advised Lithuanians who withdrew from the Soviet army in the early 1990s to refrain from traveling to Russia, Belarus or other countries outside the European Union or North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Travel to such countries may threaten personal security, it said.
The request comes just days after tensions increased between Baltic neighbors Estonia and Russia, following the apparent abduction and detention of an Estonian security officer by the Russian FSB security service.
It also follows President Barack Obama’s pledge to defend the Baltic states as NATO members during a visit to Estonia.