Lithuanian army major returns state award amid sexual allegations

  • 2022-12-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Gintautas Ciunis, the Lithuanian Armed Forces' major accused by three young women of inappropriate behavior, has said that he has renounced a state award he received last year.   

The Lithuanian president's office confirmed to BNS on Friday that it had received Ciunis' request to remove him from the list of award recipients. 

Ciunis says that the public accusations made against him have damaged his reputation and that it is a matter of honor for him as a military officer to prevent the scandal from casting even the slightest shadow on the state and its awards. Therefore, he sees it his duty to renounce his state award.

Ciunis received the medal of the Order for Merits to Lithuania last year.  Together with his colleagues, he helped to evacuate Afghan interpreters, who had worked with Lithuania's military contingent, and their family members to Lithuania. The Afghans were fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country in the summer of 2021.

Skirmantas Malinauskas, a blogger, last week posted on his Youtube channel the testimonies of the three young woman accusing Ciunis of inappropriate behavior with them when they were minors. 

Ciunis, 29 at the time, led one of the units of the Lithuanian Scout Association, and the women were then about 16 years old.

The young women said Ciunis showed them attention by giving them rides to school, inviting them to coffee, hosting parties at his house and treating them to cocktails. One of them claimed to have had sexual relations with the Scout camp leader.

Ciunis did not clearly deny the allegations, saying that "I should be careful about what I say now" and that "the truth is somewhere in the middle here". 

Earlier this week, the Vilnius District Prosecutor's Office opened a pre-trial investigation into the possible coercion of a minor to engage in sexual activity.

The Lithuanian Armed Forces have started an in-house probe into the allegations, and the Lithuanian Scouts have temporarily suspended Ciunis' membership of the organization.