The ministers of justice of the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine have condemned the 1941 deportations, as Lithuania on Tuesday commemorates 75 years since the start of mass deportations of its citizens.

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Signed by Lithuania's Justice Minister Juozas Bernatonis, Estonia's Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu, Latvia's Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnacs, Poland's Justice Minister Zbignew Ziobro and Ukraine's Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko, the statement says that Russia, as the legal successor of the Soviet Union, has failed to take any action to compensate the damages caused by the horrific crimes.

"This is not a thing of the past, neither a thing which should be forgotten. Some of the people, who 75 years ago were separated from their families and were criminally deported to Siberia and other remote areas in the Soviet Union, are still among us. These people and the physical and mental pain that they have suffered due to Communist crimes, deserve remembrance, justice and active condemnation of these crimes," reads the statement published by the Lithuanian Justice Ministry.

According to the document, the Soviet Union's annexation and occupation of sovereign democratic states was aimed at breaking people down spiritually and erasing the concept of statehood from their memory. "They did not manage to break the spirit of the people. Their crimes against humanity did not succeed in exterminating their striving for freedom," the ministers said.

Authors of the statement said that Russia's official rhetoric remained unchanged: crimes were being denied, while the Soviet past and then leaders were being praised.

"We praise the brave people who had to go through this unimaginable pain and suffering. We will always remember the ones who are no longer among us and most certainly we will continuously condemn these and other crimes, cowardly committed by totalitarian regimes," reads the statement.

More than 130,000 Lithuanian residents were deported during the Soviet occupation, thousands more died in labour camps.

BNS
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