Lithuania's first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis on Monday strongly criticized the work of prosecutors in the January 13 case, saying that they have diminished the importance of the investigation.
Vytautas Landsbergis
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

"They've done everything to suppress it and not to make a real case of international importance out of it," the former chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council told BNS on Monday.

Asked to comment on prosecutors' decision not to prosecute the then Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, Landsbergis said: "They should go to the kindergarten, to the elementary school, read books about those events and read testimonies of witnesses. These are pathetic prosecutors."

Earlier in the day, Lithuania's Prosecutor General's Office handed over to court the January 13 case where dozens of people are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, related to the Soviet aggression in 1991.

All in all, 66 Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens, who held high-ranking positions in the Soviet Union's Communist Party, the ministries of defence and interior, the State Security Committee (KGB) and their armed divisions, have been names suspects in the case. With the exception of two, they will all be probably tried in absentia.

Acting Prosecutor General Darius Raulušaitis told journalists on Monday that prosecutors have no sufficient evidence to prosecute Gorbachev. Attempts were made during the investigation to question the former Soviet leader but Russia refused to provide legal assistance.

Robertas Povilaitis, who lost his father during the Soviet aggression in Vilnius on January 13, 1991, says he still has many unanswered questions after prosecutors ended the January 13 probe.

"I would like to know whether attempts were made to question people from Gorbachev's circle, whether there was cooperation with the law enforcement of Georgia and Azerbaijan as killings took place in several countries under the leadership of the same president. I also don’t know whether international war crime experts were involved in the investigation," Povilaitis told BNS on Monday.

Since Russia refuses to cooperate, the issue must be raised at the international level, Povilaitis believes.

Fourteen people were killed during the attack on the Vilnius TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in the Lithuanian capital by Soviet units in the early hours of January 13, 1991.

In 1999, six individuals – Mykolas Burokevičius, Juozas Jarmalavičius, Juozas Kuolelis, Leonas Bartosevičius, Stanislav Mickevič and Jaroslav Prokopovič – were sentenced in the case for the establishment of anti-state organizations and other crimes.

BNS
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