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Russia threatens arrest of 3 judges from Vilnius: Lithuania appeals to EU Commission

Russia threatens arrest of 3 judges from Vilnius: Lithuania appeals to EU Commission Illustrative photo (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

The Moscow court has sentenced three judges from Vilnius in absentia. Lithuania has decided to appeal to the European Commission due to the security threat to the judges of the judiciary, according to the Council of Judges of Lithuania.

"The Council of Judges has appealed to the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and the Prime Minister with a request to assess the recent information related to the persecution of Lithuanian judges by Russia," the statement said.

The Council of Judges has also addressed Vice-President of the European Commission Věra Jourová.

Why Russia threatens arrest of judges from Vilnius

Yesterday, information emerged that on August 17, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow issued a decision to arrest three Lithuanian judges who delivered a verdict in the case related to the events of January 13, 1991, in Vilnius. The judges are Ainora Macevičienė, Virginija Pakalnytė-Tamošiūnaitė and Artūras Šumskas.

This pertains to the storming of the television center in Vilnius, which occurred during clashes between supporters of Lithuania's independence restoration and Soviet military forces on the night of January 13.

Later, no officials of the USSR wanted to take responsibility for the event. Subsequently, accusations of war crimes in Lithuania were brought against 67 citizens of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, mainly military personnel who participated in the storming. Most of the accused were tried in absentia.

What else was said in the Council of Judges

The Council of Judges emphasizes that such behavior by the Russian regime is a deliberate and systematic attempt to intimidate judges not only in Lithuania but also in the international community to avoid legal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia itself.

"The Council of Judges, as a self-governing body of the judiciary, ensuring the independence of the courts and judges, once again declares that situations, where assumptions are made about the persecution of judges of an independent state for performing their constitutional duties, cannot be tolerated and justified," they added in conclusion.

Russia previously took similar actions against judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. An arrest warrant was also issued for Maria Lvova-Belova, the authorized representative for children's rights under the President of Russia.

Later, Russia announced a search for Judge Tomoko Akane of the International Criminal Court (ICC). She is one of the three judges who issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala of the International Criminal Court, who issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, also appeared in the search database of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).