The Lithuanian judges and prosecutors working on the Jan. 13 case downplay Russia's decision to open criminal cases against them and say they have no plans to travel to Russia.
At the January 13 case court hearing
© Stopkadras / DELFI.TV

Vilnius Regional Court Judge Aiva Survilienė, acting as a reserve judge in the Jan. 13 case, expressed her surprise at Russia's action.

"I've never had plans to go to Russia, so this is not important for me. I do not plan to travel in that direction. So it doesn’t cause me any discomfort. We are aware that is not recommended to travel there so there are no plans," she told BNS Lithuania.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation against the Lithuanian judges and prosecutors investigating working on the Jan. 13 case, the committee's spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko said.

"The Committee's Main Investigative Directorate has launched a criminal case against the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office and court officials. Their actions appear to be criminal under Part 2, Article 299 of the Russian Criminal Code (knowingly prosecuting an innocent person)," Petrenko told Interfax on Monday.

Asked what if Lithuanian officials went to a foreign country and were detained there in response to Russia's request, Survilienė said she could hardly imagine that Lithuanian officials could be prosecuted this way.

"No democratic country has such a code article. There's no liability for a judge for hearing some case, and even if they were detained, the other country would not be able to extradite them. I have never heard of a country were a judge was prosecuted for hearing a case, not for issuing a ruling. It's just beyond everything. Judges would drop cases if they new that they might be prosecuted. Perhaps a foreign country could detain them for a short period of time, but they could not extradite them to Russia as double criminality is needed, an equivalent is needed," Survilienė told BNS Lithuania.

Prosecutor Gintautas Paškevičius, also working on the Jan. 13 case, also told BNS Lithuania he has no plans to travel to Russia.

"We've never had such plans, but it's pretty clear for us that we should not go to Russia. There's no need to go there," he told BNS Lithuania.

A total of 67 people have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in the January 13th case, with the majority of them standing trial in absentia. Lithuanian prosecutors have proposed sentencing former Soviet defense Minister Dmitry Yazov and several other army officers to life in prison.

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were wounded when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of Jan. 13, 1991.

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