On Thursday, March 11, the Baltic News Service (BNS) reported Lithuania’s decision to recall its ambassador to Russia, Remigijus Motuzas, for consultations. One of the reasons was the threats directed at Motuzas, after Vilnius District Court found former Soviet Union Minister of Defense, Dmitry Yazov, and a number of other Russians citizens guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their role in the case of January 13, 1991 events. Then, during the clashes following the Soviet army and special forces attempts to occupy Vilnius television tower and the Lithuanian radio and TV building, 14 people were killed, and more than a thousand unarmed people suffered.
Lithuania blamed the Soviet military and the political leadership of the Soviet Union for the deaths of the civilians.
"The ambassador is being summoned for consultations due to vulnerability caused by the threats received by the embassy, embassy staff and the ambassador following the verdict in the" January 13th case ", said the press attaché of the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Rasa Jakilaitiene.
Another reason to recall the ambassador from Russia was his special witness status in the pre-trial investigation of the illegal issuance of Schengen visas to the co-owner of the New Industrial Bank, Rinat Nasyrov, and his son. Earlier, the former ambassador to Russia, Rimantas Sidlauskas, was detained in Lithuania on suspicions of receiving a bribe for assistance in issuing this visa.
“Since the investigation is underway and there is this status of a special witness, and since in some sense it is connected with Russia, the ambassador might be vulnerable,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius to BNS. “Perhaps it is better for him not to go to this country for some time.
The special witness status is granted to a person who is being questioned in the case without enough grounds to bring charges, notes BNS.