Lithuania: former Soviet minister convicted

Former Soviet defence minister Dmitri Yazov has been sentenced to ten years in prison in Lithuania for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court found him guilty for his role in the bloody quashing of demonstrations in Vilnius in January 1991. The 95-year-old was not present at the sentencing. Has justice been done?

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Delfi (LT) /

Communist regime found guilty

The judgement is highly symbolic, Delfi comments:

“Like the Nuremburg Trials, the proceedings in the 'January 13' trial were more political than legal. ... The goal was neither revenge nor blood, nor realistic punishment for the culprits. The point was to deliver justice where justice is due and to condemn the inhuman, murderous communist regime. ... The significance of the judgement is also not lessened by the fact that apart from the former Soviet defence minister, Dmitri Yazov, the only people convicted were soldiers who had no part in the decision making. ... Or by the fact that Mikhail Gorbachev, without whose blessing the bloody massacre would not have been possible, has escaped being held accountable.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

First clean up your own backyard

Lithuania should deal with its own history first, Viktor Loshak says on Radio Kommersant FM:

“It's comfortable to seek the criminals in Russia and forget your own henchmen. In the specialist literature I found the following sentence: 'The number of Nazi criminals living in Lithuania at the start of the 21st century is higher than in any other country in Europe.' And the US has indeed deported Lithuanians who committed these atrocities several times, sending them back to their home country, but not one of them was ever convicted there. ... Even after the book written by [Rūta] Vanagaite [about the Lithuanians' mass involvement in the atrocities] Lithuania still can't bring itself to pronounce clear judgement on its own war criminals. Was it necessary to begin with a 95-year-old Russian marshal and war veteran?”