VILNIUS – The Lithuanian Court of Appeal has closed the appeal proceedings in the case of Vladimir Sokolov, a Lithuanian citizen convicted of spying for Russia, and upheld his prison sentence of nine years and three months.
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted the request of Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office and upheld the sentence handed down by Vilnius Regional Court in June 2021, the Prosecutor General's Office said.
The regional court then convicted Sokolov and Igor Gostev, a Russian citizen, of recruiting Lithuanian citizens to spy for Russia. Among other things, the convicts sought to collect information on the protection of Dalia Grybauskaite, who was Lithuania's president at the time.
Gostev was handed a prison sentence of ten and a half years.
Both men are hiding in Russia and are on a wanted list.
According to the Court of Appeal, the panel of judges terminated the appeal proceedings based on the Criminal Code which allows doing so if a convicted person sentenced in absentia fails to appear at the appeal hearing without a valid reason.
"The panel of judges concluded that although the convicted person had been informed of the scheduled hearings before the Court of Appeal, the totality of the circumstances of the proceedings clearly shows that Sokolov did not intend to appear before the court, nor is there any reason to believe that he will appear before the court in the future," it said.
According to the case-file, Sokolov and Gostev recruited Lithuanian citizens in several foreign countries between 2011 and 2014 to collect and transfer information of interest to Russian intelligence and paid them for it.
These people were tasked with collecting information about Lithuania's VIP Protection Department (now the Dignitary Protection Service) and its staff as well as about how the country's leaders and their offices and homes were protected and what technical equipment was used, etc.
Special attention was given to gaining access to private, technical and other information about Grybauskaite's protection and to making contacts with officers in charge of security systems.
The criminal case against Sokolov and Gostev was separated from the one in which Nikolai Filipchenko, a senior officer of the Kaliningrad branch of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), was convicted of spying for Russia, use of forged documents and multiple illegal border crossings.
Filipchenko was detained in Lithuania in April 2015 and sentenced to ten years in prison by Vilnius Regional Court in July 2017.
However, he was pardoned by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in November 2019 and handed over to Russia in exchange for three people convicted in the country.