A Russian politician submitted a bill to revoke the recognition of Lithuania’s independence

A Russian politician proposed a draft bill to revoke Russia’s recognition of the independence of Lithuania. An “absurdity” for Lithuania.

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Flag of Lithuania | © Mantas Bytautas

Evgeny Fedorov proposed on June 8 a draft bill to the State Duma, the lower house of the Federation of Russia, that seeks to remove the recognition of Lithuania as an independent state.

The Russian deputy from the ruling party United Russia claims that the 1991 resolution granting Lithuania its independence would be illegal because it was adopted by a body that violated the constitution of the USSR. In an explanatory note, he points out that the Russian Federation is the legal successor of the USSR territory and that the State Council was not included in the Soviet constitution and didn’t have the right to give away Soviet Union territory.

The State Council of the Soviet Union was the highest organ of state power, composed of the president of the Soviet Union, Mikhaïl Gorbachev, and the presidents of the Soviet Republics, during the transition period between September and December 1991 and the end of the USSR.

For Mr. Fedorov, Lithuania should have held a referendum on its independence and set a transitional period to consider some disputed issues. Lithuania did vote in a referendum on the current constitution in 1992.

But this is not the first time, Mr. Fedorov makes this kind of provocative move.

Mr. Fyodorov in 2015 had sent a letter to the Russian chief prosecutor’s office arguing that the decision to recognize Baltic independence had been taken “by an unconstitutional body“. The Russian chief prosecutor’s office had to examine the legitimacy of the Baltic independence few days after it had found illegal the transfer of Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954. Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s foreign minister at the time, called the move “legally, morally and politically absurd“.

But the Kremlin at the time also distanced itself from the initiative as then-spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “in the Kremlin we were not familiar with this initiative. And I struggle to understand the essence of this initiative”. Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor general’s office had also told Russian news agencies that it was just a formality and the prosecutor was “required by law to consider all requests, regardless of their content. Some of them lack common sense.” She had also made clear the review would have no legal implications: “In this case, it is clear the matter has no legal prospects“.

Asked by the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta if such a bill had a probability to pass, Mr. Fyodorov said he was confident it would at some point but also added that “no one is in a hurry”.

For Mr. Fyodorov, such a law would “eliminate the legal violations that were committed in Gorbachev’s time,” but also increase negotiation powers over Lithuania to regulate relations with a country he finds has an “aggressive policy” against Russia. He told Pravda that he targeted Lithuania because it has the most aggressive policy of the three Baltic countries against Russia and because Lithuania also has borders with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Last month, Lithuania’s parliament designated Russia a terrorist country, a first in the world, and its actions in Ukraine as genocide.

Mr. Fyodorov also considers that repealing the decision to recognize Lithuania’s independence would challenge NATO’s defense policy and question Lithuania’s adhesion. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia became NATO members in 2004.

LIthuania’s presidential communication group told the Baltic news agency it didn’t want to comment on an “absurdity“.

Audronius Azubalis, former foreign minister of Lithuania, reacted that the independence process was complete after the parliament of Russia ratified Lithuania’s treaty in 1992. “Russia has recognized us as a historic state,” he told Delfi.

Lithuanian political experts see the move of the Russian MP as an intimidation attempt.

Mr. Azubalis considers there is no need for a response of such an initiative which shows that “politicians appointed in the Duma are competing between one another with who will come up with a tougher solution. […] But that doesn’t mean it is not dangerous,” he added.

Vytautas Landsbergis, the head of state of Lithuania when it declared its independence in 1990 and grandfather of the current foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, told 15min that such a bill would be null and void with no legal meaning: “It’s only a signal that they can go crazy and attack“.

Read more about Lithuania

"On the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Lithuania", Russia State Duma, June 2022, Free access

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