On Friday, 29 April, in reaction to Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov’s announcement that Lithuania is «the most aggressive, Russophobic country», Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius called his Russian counterpart to «discontinue the tradition to seek new enemies».
«The word ‘Rusophobic’ is not applicable here. If there was a world like ‘Kremlinphobic’, I would agree, because we differentiate the rest of Russia from the policy employed by its current government,» – Lithuanian minister told BNS. «We respect Russian culture. We organize events that are attended by intellectuals, journalists, writers and politologists,» – he added.
In his interview, published by Swedish Dagens Nyheter on Friday, Lavrov said Baltic States have not expressed any kind of gratitude to Moscow for letting them «go in peace» after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He also described Lithuania as «the most aggressive, Russophobic country», adding that the country exacts pressure on NATO to send the alliance in an «anti-Russian direction».
Lavros said that «colleagues from NATO» had told him once that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia would ‘calm down’ after joining the alliance in 2014. «They joined NATO but there was no calm, especially not with our Lithuanian neighbour,» – the newspaper cited the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister.
Lavrov also criticized Lithuania for the trial of the case regarding an attempted coup of 13 January 1991. More than 60 individuals are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, most of the accused individuals are absent from the trial. This is because they live in other countries, mainly Russia and Belarus. Both countries have refused to extradite them. Accused individuals are represented in court by lawyers provided by the state.
In January 1991, in an attempt to overthrow the legally elected government of Lithuania, which had announced the restoration of state independence in March 1990, Soviet Special Forces took control over Vilnius television tower, Press Hall, Television and Radio Committee and other objects in Lithuania’s cities. 14 unarmed people were killed in this attempted coup.
«It is unfortunate that older people, who did not attack any civilians, who only defended the television centre and simply followed orders, are being bounced back and forth in Lithuanian courts and being accused of all deadly sins. I think it is pathetic and disrespectful,» – said Lavrov.
«The Soviet Union acted generously. No one tried to hold Baltic States with force even though this topic had caused all kinds of emotions, which I will not try to analyse, inside the country. They left in peace, maintaining contacts. No one has ever seen or heard any kind of gratitude,» – said the minister.
Linkevicius described Lavrov’s statements as propaganda and «art to switch actors, causes, consequences and facts in places». He also reminded that Russia was the one who declined to cooperate in the case regarding the Soviet Union’s aggression in Lithuania in 1991.