Ukrainian convicted in Lithuania's 1991 crackdown case fights against Russia – lawyer

  • 2022-06-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Oleksandr Radkevich, a Ukrainian citizen convicted by a Vilnius court in the January 1991 Soviet crackdown case, is fighting to defend his country against Russian aggression, his lawyer said on Monday. 

Arvydas Verpecinskas, Radkevich's defense lawyer in Lithuania, told BNS that he had received two certificates from Ukrainian lawyers.

"A certificate that he is involved in territorial defense and a certificate that he is in military service," Verpecinskas said.

"(Radkevich) is asking for an adjournment of the hearing. He does not refuse to attend; he would agree to attend remotely; he is not in hiding," he added.  

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Lithuanian Court of Appeal is scheduled to convene in Vilnius for the hearing of Radkevich's criminal case.

"The hearing should be postponed at least until September," said the lawyer.

In March, the Court of Appeal postponed its hearing on the case until June because of the war, as the court had no information if the man had been properly informed of the proceedings.

The court then set three tentative dates: June 28, September 6 and October 18.

Radkevich, 53, was detained in Greece last September on a European arrest warrant issued by a Lithuanian court. The Supreme Court of Greece ruled on February 9 not to extradite the man to Lithuania and he was released.

Several years ago, Vilnius Regional Court sentenced Radkevich to four years in prison for driving a tank involved in the bloody events at the Lithuanian capital's Press House.

The Ukrainian appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeal of Lithuania last December. He had the right to do so even though the verdict had become final, because his case was heard by the court of first instance in absentia.

In his letter to the Court of Appeal, the man said he was concerned that his case in Lithuania was political in nature, referring to Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis' statement that it was "Lithuania's Nuremberg case". 

The Ukrainian national is one of 67 people handed prison sentences in the mass trial. The majority of the defendants were convicted in absentia as Russia and Belarus refused to extradite them. 

Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds more were injured when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.

The Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the legitimate government of Lithuania which declared independence on March 11, 1990.