LITHUANIA AND CHECHNYA – SISTERS FOREVER?
Moskovskii Komsomolets, February 28, 2003, EV
Of all the Baltic states, Lithuania has had the best relations with Russia – until now. However, the good relations between Russia and Lithuania have deteriorated recently. Sure enough, the apple of discord was Chechnya.
Apparently a group of members of parliament from Lithuania’s Seimas had no peace because of the laurels of their counterparts from Copenhagen, so they decided to hold an international conference on the situation in Chechnya. The conference had a lovely title: “Chechnya as a denial of law”. It was dedicated to the 59th anniversary of the deportation of the people of Chechnya.
A number of radical Lithuanian members of parliament accused the Russian government of persecuting Chechen civilians, and said it was to the disgrace of “the free Europe” that it has turned a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses in Chechnya for four years. By “coincidence”, the day before the conference the Lithuanian parliament made an exception and granted citizenship to a Chechen woman, Aminat Saieva, who is considered to be an unofficial representative of Aslan Maskhadov in Lithuania.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry evaluated these events as obviously unfriendly toward Lithuania’s neighbor. Lithuanian officials preferred to quickly cover up the scandal and pretend that nothing at all had happened. However, a deputy foreign minister of Lithuania had to postpone his visit to Moscow.