Lithuanian diplomats expressed their protest to a representative of the Russian Embassy on Thursday over Russia's decision to mark the takeover of Vilnius and Kaunas during WWII with artillery salutes.
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Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the Soviet occupation did not bring freedom for Lithuania after Nazi Germany was pushed out.

"Such a move is cynical and provocative as the 80th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols, which created conditions for the start of World War II and Lithuania's occupation, is approaching," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

According to the ministry, Russia's Western Military District plans to mark the takeover of Vilnius with artillery salutes on the upcoming Saturday, and the takeover of Kaunas will be marked on August 1.

"The allied victory against Nazism and the Nazi ideology is very important for the fate of Lithuania and of the whole of Europe. But the end of WWII did not bring freedom for Lithuania as it meant the start of a new, Soviet, occupation, which lasted almost half a century, and tragedies in the lives of people of Lithuania," the ministry said in the statement.

"After the Soviet army pushed the Nazi Germany army out, Soviet occupant structures were created and operated in the territory of Lithuania, Lithuanian residents were subject to deportations and repressions, and major damage was done to Lithuania's society, economy and nature," the statement reads.

According to the ministry, due to these reasons, Russia's decision to mark the takeover of Vilnius, Kaunas and other cities in Eastern and Central Europe with artillery salutes is viewed by Lithuania as unacceptable.

"It is deplorable that the "liberation" of Vilnius will be marked a week after a group of young Lithuanians, who planned to travel to tend graves in the territory of the Russian Federation of Lithuanians deported by the Soviet authorities, were refused visas. Russia was once again asked to refrain from a selective attitude to the WWII history and stop denying the Soviet occupation of Lithuania," the statement of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states.

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