13 Feb 2024, 17:07

Lithuanian minister wanted in Russia slams Kremlin

VILNIUS, Feb 13, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Lithuania's culture minister on Tuesday said Russia was distorting facts after Moscow declared him and Estonia's prime minister and another Baltic official wanted for "hostile actions".

Relations between Russia and the three Baltic nations, all former Soviet republics, are already tense over their staunch support for Ukraine. 

Russia declared the officials, notably Estonian premier Kaja Kallas, as "wanted" amid a spat over the removal of Soviet-era war memorials in their countries.

Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys and Estonian State Secretary Taimar Peterkop were also added to the list by Moscow's interior ministry.

"The regime is doing what it has always done: it is trying to stifle freedom... and to continue to create its own version that is at odds with facts or logic," Kairys told AFP in a statement.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the officials were declared "wanted" over the "destruction" of monuments to Soviet soldiers.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been removing Soviet-era memorials since they gained independence and the process has gained momentum following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"I am glad that my work in dismantling the ruins of Sovietisation has not gone unnoticed," Kairys said. 

Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters on Tuesday that Moscow's move was a "reward for the people who support Ukraine and support the fight for good against evil".

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