Russia has so far refused to extradite Boleslav Makutynovich and Vladimir Razvodov, the then commanders of Vilnius Special Purpose Militia Unit (OMON) of the internal army of the Soviet Union's Ministry of the Interior, to Lithuania. They are officially named as suspects under a court ruling.
"Both OMON commanders are suspected of having organized crimes against humanity and war crimes of the unit of the Soviet repressive structure under their command against residents of the Republic of Lithuania and having taken part in them," the Office said in a statement.
Makutynovich and Razvodov can be tried under articles of Lithuania's Penal Code stipulating responsibility for treatment of people banned under international law as well as for injury, torture or any other inhuman treatment of people protected under international humanitarian and violation of protection of their property. There is no statute of limitations for these crimes and these crimes are considered crimes against humanity and war crimes.
According to the prosecutors, letters on the end of the pre-trial investigation will be sent to the suspects via relevant Russian liaison bodies.
"After the indictment is produced, the criminal case will be handed over to a court, and a copy of the indictment will be sent to this country's liaison bodies provided for by the Law on Criminal Procedure and international treaties," the Prosecutor General's Office said.
Prosecutors say suspects in such cases can be tried in absentia after relevant amendments to the Lithuanian Penal Code came into force two years ago.
Representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office told BNS earlier that Makutynovich and Razvodov were suspected of criminal acts against Lithuania committed on 11 January 1991, and 25 August 1991. European arrest warrants have been issued for their arrest.
14 people were killed during an attempt by the Soviet army and special forces to take over the Vilnius TV Tower on January 13, 1991, and more than 1,000 unarmed civilians were injured. Seven police and customs officers who guarded the border of Lithuania, then unrecognized by the Soviet Union, were killed at Medininkai border checkpoint in July 1991.
The first leader of independent Lithuania, Vytautas Landsbergis, welcomed prosecutors' decision to hand over the case to court, but says they have been late in investigating the 1991 crimes.
"It seems to be long overdue but it's better late than never. If it's been consistently made and reasoned, then it's good they've done that. As those people have committed crimes and it would be wrong to leave them unrevealed and unformulated. It would insult justice itself. Justice is not only a system, it’s the essence," Landsbergis told BNS on Thursday.