MFA deplores the statement of the Russian Federation Embassy
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deplores the statement issued by the Embassy of the Russian Federation which prevents the 17th youth expedition “Misija Sibiras” (Mission Siberia) from traveling to locations in Russia where Lithuanian deportees are buried which was intended to take place from 17 July to 1 August.
A motive given by the Embassy of the Russian Federation is alleged artificial barriers by the Lithuanian side to maintaining soviet graves and monuments.
A new wording of the rules concerning immovable cultural heritage significant to foreign countries on the territory of Lithuania was approved on 27 June. The rules stipulate a transparent, safe, efficient and legal way, regulated in a detailed manner, for foreign countries to maintain graves in line with Lithuanian laws. However the Embassy of the Russian Federation decided to take unjustifiable and disproportionate measures against the non-governmental initiative Mission Siberia.
The Ministry is of the opinion that this demarche is nothing but an attempt to exert pressure on the process of making internal decisions in Lithuania and to force Lithuania into an intergovernmental agreement that would not meet Lithuanian national interests.
A comparison between the maintenance of soviet graves by the Embassy of the Russian Federation and the maintenance of deportees’ burial places which is based on a non-governmental initiative is unjustifiable. The activities of the Mission are not political; it is a fully civic, humanistic, non-governmental initiative aimed to pay tribute to the victims of soviet repressions and to preserve their burial places.
We hope the Russian Federation will abandon the tendentious and totally ungrounded assessment of the activities of the Mission Siberia, will not put up artificial barriers and will not look for pretexts to stop this youth initiative.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on 17 April, received a response to its note of 12 April over safety and security of the staff of the Lithuanian diplomatic representation and their family members in Moscow from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
On 4 April, at NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Washington, Minister Linas Linkevičius called for response to the actions of Russia in the Black Sea region and in the area of arms control that are weakening European security.
Lithuania strongly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. We condemn the ongoing military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine that flagrantly violates international law, the Charter of the United Nations, the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act, and bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Russia. We will continue to support Ukraine and coherently implement the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea five years ago.
We appreciate the efforts the United States have undertaken to engage Russia with a view to preserving the INF treaty.
On 27 May, on the eve of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Minister Linas Linkevičius invited his fellow ministers to an informal business dinner with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of the movement Open Russia.