Lithuania Convicts Russians of War Crimes Under Soviet Rule

A court in Lithuania has found a former Soviet defence minister guilty of war crimes over a deadly crackdown aimed at stopping the Baltic state breaking away from the USSR in 1991.

Marshal Dmitry Yazov, 94, was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison.

Another 66 former Soviet military and KGB officials were given sentences of between four and 14 years. Only two of them were present in the courtroom.

Russia says the trial in Lithuania is politically motivated and illegal.

It sentenced Yazov, a Russian national, to 10 years in jail for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Another high-profile defendant, former KGB officer Mikhail Golovatov, was sentenced in absentia to 12 years in prison. He is also a Russian citizen.

Moscow has refused to extradite the two men.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite also praised the court ruling.

"The guilty have been named for killings of people who peacefully protected freedom," she said in a statement.

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Reported by: BBC