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Chief advisor to the president on interior policy Virginija Budienė says that Lithuanian citizens who left or refused to serve in the Soviet army after Lithuania declared independence from the USSR in March 1990 did not commit a crime.
Virginija Būdienė, Dalia Grybauskaitė
Virginija Būdienė, Dalia Grybauskaitė
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

"Those people did not commit a crime against Lithuania or the international law, on the contrary - they are our heroes. Russia is the one that committed war crimes by occupying Lithuania and forcing people to serve in the occupying army," said Budienė on Tuesday's interview to the Žiniu Radijas radio.

Her comments come after it emerged that Russia might be trying to prosecute Lithuanian nationals who left or avoided conscription in the Soviet army in the early 1990s.

The president's chief advisor noted that, based on the Hague and Geneva Conventions regarding the protection of civilians in the time of war, the occupying state cannot force people protected by the conventions to serve in the occupant's armed forces.

"In this case, exactly that country (Russia - ELTA) committed a war crime by forcing people to fight. We will make every effort to protect our people, especially our heroes in question," assured Budienė.

The chief advisor noted that the Act of Independence of Lithuania adopted on 16 February 1918 by the Council of Lithuania and the resolution Concerning the Restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania adopted in 1920 by the Constituent Assembly (Seimas) have always been in force and are the constitutional basis of Lithuania.

"According to the provisions of the 11 March 1990 Act (on the Restoration of an Independent State of Lithuania - ELTA), sovereign powers abolished by foreign forces in 1940 have been reinstated," said the chief advisor.

As reported, Russian law enforcement authorities are attempting to renew criminal prosecution of Lithuanians who left or refused to serve in the Soviet army after 11 March 1990.

This emerged when the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office received a legal assistance request from Russian institutions about a Lithuanian national charged with desertion.

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