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Lithuanian court to summon ex-Soviet leader Gorbachev as witness in 1991 Vilnius events

October 17, 2016, 16:50 UTC+3 VILNIUS

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

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Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

© Sergei Bobylev/TASS

VILNIUS, October 17. /TASS/. 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 that left 14 people dead, chairwoman of the judiciary for these proceedings, Ainora Kornelija Maceviciene said on Monday.

"The Justice Ministry of Lithuania will have to turn to Russia with a request for legal assistance," she said.

According to the judge, it is not clear how much this process will take, but this won’t affect the further investigation of the case.

Vilnius’ previous attempts to summon the ex-Soviet president as a witness in the process of the 1991 events have failed to bring any result.

Meanwhile, the Gorbachev Foundation’s press office told TASS on Monday that "Mikhail Gorbachev numerously spoke about the 1991 Vilnius events in his books."

The Gorbachev Foundation also said that it had learnt about the intentions of the Vilnius court to summon the ex-Soviet leader from media reports.

"The Gorbachev Foundation has not received any documents on summoning Mikhail Gorbachev for questioning into the 1991 Vilnius events. We know nothing about this, except for media reports," the Gorbachev Foundation said.

Judicial proceedings on 1991 Vilnius events

Chairman of the judicial board of the Vilnius district court earlier announced intentions to summon Gorbachev as a witness in the January 1991 events in the Lithuanian capital.

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.

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

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.

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