MOSCOW, March 22 (RAPSI) – Russian national Gennady Ivanov, who stands charged with involvement in clashes in January 1991 after declaration of Lithuania’s independence from the USSR, has pleaded not guilty in the Vilnius District Court, RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.
Lithuania's Prosecutor General's Office has declared 65 citizens of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine defendants in the criminal case opened in the aftermath of the clashes. They were charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity battery, murder, endangering other's wellbeing, as well as unlawful military actions against civilians.
Ivanov, who was a head of the 107th motor rifle division’s missile and artillery supply in 1991, insists on his innocence.
“My work was connected only with combat equipment; I did not run military units. I did not take part in actions directed to violent overthrow of Lithuania’s regime,” he said in court.
Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990.
Moscow denounced the move as illegal and put an economic blockade on the country between April and late June 1990.
In January 1991, a series of unauthorized protests swept across Lithuania after which Soviet military forces entered the republic. On the night of January 13, Soviet armored vehicles and tanks rolled into the center of Vilnius. Soviet troops clashed with civilians at a local TV tower, leaving 14 dead and over 600 injured.
Security personnel later claimed that the clashes were a result of a provocation, and that the victims were killed by sharpshooters.
On June 4, a court in Vilnius acquitted Boleslav Makutynovich and Vladimir Razvodov, former officers of riot police special unit, who were suspected of committing crimes during the clashes in 1991. The former riot police officers, who live in Russia, were tried in absentia.