On August 14, a round table was held in Kaliningrad «On the legal assessment of the events of January 13, 1991 in Vilnius and the criminal and judicial prosecution of their participants», organized by the charitable foundation «Our Compatriots» with assistance from the Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Security and Cooperation with Public Supervisory Commissions.
On March 27, 2019, the Vilnius District Court sentenced 67 defendants to prison, most of whom are citizens of the Russian Federation. All the defendants in this trial are former state and party leaders of the Soviet Union, servicemen and employees of special units who performed their duty in Vilnius in order to protect the constitutional system of the USSR and preserve public order on the territory of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. All of them were sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment for their alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. 65 persons involved in the case were convicted in absentia as only two former Soviet servicemen — Yuri Mel and Gennady Ivanov — are imprisoned in Lithuania. Their lawyers have filed an appeal against the ruling of the Vilnius District Court, which is scheduled for September 15, 2020.
Since September 2017, this issue has been coordinated by the working group of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on monitoring the situation and analyzing materials related to the events of January 13, 1991 in Vilnius, under the Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Security and Cooperation with Public Supervisory Commissions, which includes members of the International Association of Veterans «Alpha», the International Union of Public Associations of Veterans «Military Brotherhood», the Charitable Foundation for Information Support and Legal Assistance «Compatriots», the Union of private security companies «Peacemaker Community», the media, as well as veterans — participants of the Vilnius events of January 1991.
«The work of protecting our compatriots can be compared with a game of basketball: it constantly needs attention and cannot be left unattended for a second, otherwise it will end up with the ball being intercepted by the opponent’s side,» said First Deputy Chairman of the Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Security and Cooperation with Public Supervisory Commissions Mikhail Anichkin
. «Our work on this case was aimed at consolidating the actions of public organizations and executive authorities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in order to protect our compatriots, which could not but affect the Lithuanian justice system, and as a result, instead of a life sentence, Yuri Mel was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, we do not intend to agree with such a sentence and will fight for complete justification of our compatriot. Unfortunately, such cases in this difficult time for the country are not uncommon, and therefore in Russia a special regulation should be adopted to protect our citizens who are in trouble abroad. The task will be to unite and direct joint efforts of state bodies and the public to fight for the salvation of our compatriots. Our efforts and work in regard to the „January 13“ case could become the basis for further developing such programmes,» he added.
, member of the Commission of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Security and Cooperation with Public Supervisory Commissions was quoted as saying: «The protection of the historical truth, freedom and honour of our military forms the basis of national security. If this issue is taken for granted at the state level, it will mean tacit agreement with the interpretation of the events of 1991 in Lithuania by Western propagandists. By showing our inaction, we throw the defenders of our Fatherland to the mercy of the falsifiers of history and the Lithuanian punishers. In the struggle for the liberation of Yuri Mel and Gennady Ivanov, the state and society should act as a united front. Only then can we achieve results, and our heroes will have the chance to return home to their loved ones. Right now, on the eve of the appeal in the case of our servicemen, it is necessary to draw the attention of the Russian and international community to the ongoing lawlessness. Yuri Mel for five years without trial and in violation of all international standards of detention was held amidst inhumane conditions: he was kept in segregation in solitary confinement, tortured and abused; the purpose of this was to break Yuri Mel and force him to confess to a crime that he had not committed. Yuri Mel has heroically endured these atrocities, he is holding on as this is the only thing he can do, and our sacred duty is to do everything possible and impossible to rescue him from confinement.»