MOSCOW, June 8 (RAPSI) - A Lithuanian court extended until September 12 the detention of Russian national Yuri Mel, suspected of involvement in clashes in January 1991 after declaration of independence from the USSR, RIA Novosti reported on Monday.
On March 12, 2014, Mel was arrested on Kaliningrad's border with Lithuania. Two days later he was placed in detention. The court has repeatedly extended his detention. Mel faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He may be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
Lithuania's Prosecutor General's Office has declared 79 citizens of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine suspects in the criminal case opened in the aftermath of the clashes.
They are suspected of battery, murder, endangering other's wellbeing, as well as unlawful military actions against civilians.
A court in Lithuania has issued European arrest warrants for the suspects who reside outside Lithuania.
Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990.
Moscow denounced the move as illegal and put an economic blockade on the country between April and late June 1990.
In January 1991, a series of unauthorized protests swept across Lithuania after which Soviet military forces entered the republic. On the night of January 13, Soviet armored vehicles and tanks rolled into the center of Vilnius. Soviet troops clashed with civilians at a local TV tower, leaving 14 dead and over 600 injured.
Security personnel later claimed that the clashes were a result of a provocation, and that the victims were killed by sharpshooters.
On June 4, a court in Vilnius acquitted Boleslav Makutynovich and Vladimir Razvodov, former officers of riot police special unit, who were suspected of committing crimes during the clashes in 1991. The former riot police officers, who live in Russia, were tried in absentia. Russia refused to extradite them.