Motion for a resolution - B9-0184/2019Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on recent actions by the Russian Federation against Lithuanian judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in investigating the tragic events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius

25.11.2019 - (2019/2938(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission
pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Anna Fotyga, Ryszard Czarnecki, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Ruža Tomašić, Assita Kanko, Adam Bielan, Alexandr Vondra, Jan Zahradil, Evžen Tošenovský, Witold Jan Waszczykowski, Veronika Vrecionová
on behalf of the ECR Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0182/2019

Procedure : 2019/2938(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on recent actions by the Russian Federation against Lithuanian judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in investigating the tragic events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia,

 having regard to its resolution of 19 September 2019 on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe[1],

 having regard to Resolution 1481 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 26 January 2006 on the need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian Communist regimes,

 having regard to the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, adopted on 3 June 2008,

 having regard to its declaration of 23 September 2008 on the proclamation of 23 August as European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism[2],

 having regard to its resolution of 2 April 2009 on European conscience and totalitarianism[3],

 having regard to the Commission report of 22 December 2010 entitled ‘The memory of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes in Europe’ (COM(2010)0783),

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 9 and 10 June 2011 on the memory of the crimes committed by the totalitarian regimes in Europe,

 having regard to the Warsaw Declaration of 23 August 2011 on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes,

 having regard the Joint Declaration of 23 August 2018 by the government representatives of eight EU Member States commemorating the victims of Communism,

 having regard to its historic resolution on the situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, adopted on 13 January 1983 in reaction to the ‘Baltic Appeal’ of 45 nationals from these countries,

 having regard to the statement by the Lithuanian Foreign Minister on 2 October 2019,

 having regard to the statement by the President of Lithuania’s Constitutional Court on 24 July 2018,

 having regard to the statement by Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice on 6 September 2019,

 having regard to the statement of Russia’s Investigative Committee on 10 April 2019,

 having regard to the Constitution of Interpol,

 having regard to EU law and Member States’ extradition agreements,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

 having regard to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 16 December 1966,

 having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC),

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas as a direct consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, followed by the Nazi-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty of 28 September 1939, the Communist Soviet Union annexed the independent Republic of Lithuania, an act never officially recognised by the West;

B. whereas in March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the 15 Soviet Republics to declare its independence;

C. whereas the Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the legitimate government of Lithuania, which declared the country’s independence on 11 March 1990;

D. whereas 14 civilians were killed and hundreds more were wounded when Soviet troops stormed the TV tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of 13 January 1991;

E. whereas hundreds of thousands of Russians spontaneously took to the streets of Moscow, St Petersburg (then called ‘Leningrad’) and other Russian cities in January 1991, to protest against the criminal actions by the Soviet Army and their collaborators in Vilnius;

F. whereas in March 2019, the Vilnius Regional Court convicted former Soviet Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and more than 60 other former Soviet officials, KGB and military officers of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and handed down prison sentences in absentia;

G. whereas the sentences passed in absentia by the Lithuanian judges against these former Soviet officials ranged from 4 to 14 years;

H. whereas the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice pursued active legal cooperation with Russia in this case, sending 289 legal assistance requests, only five of which were partly executed;

I. whereas in response to the Lithuanian court’s verdict, the Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation against the Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who worked on the 13 January case in Lithuania, and in March 2019 accused Lithuania of ‘unlawful prosecution of Russian citizens’, charging former Lithuanian prosecutor Simonas Slapsinskas in absentia for the allegedly unlawful prosecution of Russian citizens;

J. whereas the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania considers Russia’s decision to institute criminal proceedings against the Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who investigated the 13 January case as an unacceptable act of overt pressure on Lithuania, its courts, and law enforcement officials;

K. whereas Russia is believed to be actively harbouring and protecting the chief executive officers and perpetrators of the acts of armed aggression against innocent and unarmed civilians, and is taking all possible measures to help them avoid liability;

L. whereas Lithuanian Interior Minister Misiunas has asked his EU counterparts to cooperate with the Lithuanian authorities ‘against any possible Interpol alerts or bilateral requests launched by Russia in order to locate or to arrest officials of Lithuania involved in the case’;

M. whereas Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Dmitry Yazov, the last Soviet Defence Minister, a major state honour ‘for his contribution to strengthening the nation’s defence capability and promoting patriotic values among the younger generation’;

1. Deplores the Russian Federation’s excessive actions against Lithuania’s judges as an act of pressure on an EU Member State, its courts and law enforcement officials;

2. Deplores the Russian Federation’s abuse of international law enforcement bodies such as Interpol, and considers such actions by the Russian Federation against the judges and prosecutors of one of the EU’s Member States as incompatible with respect for the rule of law;

3. Considers the Russian Federation to be guilty of perverting the course of justice in its efforts to take all possible measures to assist war criminals of the Soviet regime in escaping justice;

4. Considers the Russian Federation to be in flagrant violation of the universally acknowledged guarantees of the independence of judges and prosecutors, as these universally accepted tenets prohibit Russian interference with the justice executed by a court, and prohibit any influence on the impartiality and independence of the decision of the court;

5. Considers such actions to have the potential to lead to the misuse of the Interpol system and other bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements to arrest, apprehend and request the extradition of persons who are subject to politically motivated persecution; calls on the relevant authorities in the Member States to cooperate with their Lithuanian counterparts to reject any possible Interpol alerts or bilateral requests launched by Russia in order to locate or to arrest officials of Lithuania involved in the case;

6. Underlines that this is the second time in recent years that Russia has used its courts to intimidate and undermine the integrity of a nation’s Constitutional Court and law enforcement, as Russia has launched a similar case against the judges of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court for condemning the annexation of Crimea;

7. Considers that these actions constitute a pattern of behaviour in which Russia, if left unopposed, will continue to interfere in the legal affairs of a Member State with the intention of undermining and eroding the constitutional authority of a Member State’s courts and law enforcement;

8. Reiterates its support for the independence, legitimacy and integrity of the Lithuanian Constitutional Court, its judges and prosecutors, and supports their decision to bring the war criminals of the Soviet regime to justice for their massacre of unarmed Lithuanian civilians that took place on 13 January 1991;

9. Regrets that the Russian Federation, including Russia’s law enforcement structures, has continuously clung to its Soviet past in a country that respected neither human life, freedom, nor the sovereignty of its neighbouring countries;

10. Condemns such actions by the Russian Federation as an unlawful attempt to exert direct pressure on Lithuania’s courts and as yet another attempt to rewrite history and deny the fact of the Soviet occupation;

11. Expresses its condolences to the families of the victims of this heinous crime and its sympathy for their plight;

12. Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs to follow more closely the evolving situation with Russia’s misuse of its criminal courts as a means to politically persecute judges, lawyers and officials of Member States through monitoring, exchanging all relevant information and identifying potential remediation needs;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President of Interpol, the President, Government and Parliament of Lithuania, the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, and the Member States.

Last updated: 26 November 2019
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