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Duma protests over case into January 1991 events in Vilnius, dubs it ‘show trial’

November 09, 2016, 15:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW

As many as 14 people died in January 1991 in Vilnius amid dual power in the republic and armed clashes

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People making fire in front of the Parliament in Vilnius, 1991

People making fire in front of the Parliament in Vilnius, 1991

© Vladimir Zavyalov/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. The Russian State Duma lower house of parliament passed a statement on Wednesday over the case into the January 1991 events in Vilnius examined by the Lithuanian court, dubbing it as "show trial", "punitive justice" and attempts to falsify history.

The statement has been submitted for consideration of the Duma committee for international affair.

The essence of accusations

Duma parliamentarians remind that a second stage of the criminal trial of more than 60 citizens of the former USSR over the events of January 1991 started in Vilnius on October 3, 2016. As many as 14 people died in January 1991 in Vilnius amid dual power in the republic and armed clashes.

"Judicial proceedings come down to accusations ‘of an attempt to illegally change the constitutional system of the Lithuanian state, attempt on its independence and territorial integrity’ as well as ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘military crimes’ during the tragic events in Vilnius in January 13, 1991, in particular, the storming of the television tower, in which 14 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded," the document said.

The authors point that "the position of the General Prosecutor’s Office on the so-called January 13 events case is that Lithuania fell a victim to Moscow aggression".

Protest against ‘political trial’

"Such position is absolutely inadmissible from the legal and political points of view. Duma parliamentarians voice protest in connection with attempts to make political decisions, this way or another aimed against the Russian Federation, under the guise of executing justice.

Parliamentarians call ‘the January 13’ case "a political process in the worst traditions of punitive justice, which has nothing to do with protection of human rights and freedoms, is at variance with rules of international law and has an expressed anti-Russian nature," it said.

"Such processes not only prevent restoration of truly friendly atmosphere of cooperation between our states, but case major damage to long-term interests of Russian-Lithuanian relations," the statement said.

"In falsifying the history, adversaries of the development of friendly good-neighborly relations between the peoples of Russia and Lithuania are preparing the ground for denouncing the Russian Federation on the international arena as successor to the ‘totalitarian regime of the USSR’, expecting that financial and other allegedly legal , but indeed politically motivated, claims will be instituted then," the statement said.

Duma supports the prosecuted

The events in Vilnius and other events related to the process of disintegration of the USSR "must be considered on the basis of generally recognized rules of law, political objectiveness and historical truth," the authors of the project say.

The January 13 case

The case into the January 1991 events in Vilnius examined by the Lithuanian court since the beginning of the year is the most significant in the history of the former Soviet Baltic republic’s judicial system by the number of persons involved in the proceedings and by its volume.

The list of suspects in the case has come to more than 60 persons, including ex-Soviet Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, former commander of Soviet Alpha anti-terror group Mikhail Golovatov and Head of the Soviet Army’s Vilnius garrison Vladimir Uskhopchik.

Currently, only two persons are sitting on the defendants’ bench - army veteran, retired Colonel and Russian citizen Yuri Mel who was detained in Lithuania in March 2014 after his regular entry into the Baltic republic from Russia’s Kaliningrad Region, and also Russian citizen and former serviceman Gennady Ivanov living in Vilnius.

The Vilnius District Court intends to summon last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, as a witness in the January 1991 events in the Lithuanian capital.

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