On Monday, 7 June, Lithuanian Court of Appeal decided to keep in force the life imprisonment sentence to former Riga OMON officer Konstantin Mikhailov or Konstantin Nikulin he was originally sentenced to for his participation in Medininkai massacre of 1991. With that, the original sentence will remain in force.
The court also satisfied the request of Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office to re-classify Mikhailov’s criminal actions from premeditated murder to crime against humanity.
On 31 June 1991, OMON attacked Medininku customs control point at night. As a result, seven Lithuanian border guards – Mindaugs Balavaks, Antans Musteiķis, Jozs Janonis, Aļģimants Jozaks, Aļģirds Kazlausks, Staņislovs Orlavičs and Ričards Rabavičs – were seriously injured and later died in hospital. Border guard Toms Šerns was the only survivor.
As noted by Judge Aloizs Kruopis, Mikhailov was one of the assailants who committed a violent crime against eight Lithuanian officials, who, according to international law, are considered civilians.
The court concluded that the Mediniku bloodbath was part of the Soviet Union’s policy. It was also mentioned during the hearing that evidence collected as part of the criminal case’s investigation suggest that the Soviet Union had attempted to destabilize the situation in Lithuania and Latvia following the restoration of the two countries’ independence. An open military aggression was carried out in Lithuania at the beginning of 1991 with a goal to provoke an armed conflict and riots. In the event of a successful provocation, it would have been possible to overthrow the government in Lithuania by force to later establish Soviet rule and continue the occupation.
According to the judge, the crime was carefully planned and prepared in advance and realized suddenly. Border guards who were attacked were being shot in the head with a clear intention to kill them.
1967-born Konstantin Nikulin, former member of Riga OMON unit, was added to this criminal case as a suspect in 2007. In October of the same year Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office, based on a European arrest warrant, turned to their Latvian colleagues with a request to extradite Nikulin, who was already convicted for anti-governmental actions. At the time, however, Konstantin Nikulin lived as Konstantin Mikhailov, because of his participation in a witness protection programme in the criminal case regarding the murder of the head of SRS Ludzas District Office Vyacheslav Listsov.
In January 2008, Mikhailov was extradited to Lithuania. The Prosecutor General’s office concluded the pre-court investigation of his case in 2009.
On 11 May 2011, Mikhailov was sentenced to life imprisonment by Vilnius Regional Court for his participation in Mediniku massacre.