Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lithuania Rejects Spying Charges

Via AIA:

Lithuania does not spy in Russia, Lithuanian Prime Minister claims

Gediminas Kirkilas, Prime Minister of Lithuania, announced that his country does not conduct intelligence activity in Russia, radio Ekho Moskvy reports. Rejecting charges of Lithuania’ s involvement in spying affair of the arrested Russian officer, Kirkilas told a news conference today that Lithuania does not conduct any espionage activities in Russia, according to Interfax news agency. “Lithuania maintains a friendly attitude toward its neighbors — we are not spying there,” he said, referring to Khitryuk’s arrest. Kirkilas believes that the arrested officer “worked in a storage facility and demonstrated interest about all around” and apparently had Lithuanian citizenship, although he did not specify details. He said all the circumstances should be cleared out.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitekunas, who was also present at the news conference, said Vilnius would provide consulate assistance to the arrested Russian officer, according to the news agency.

In its turn, the State Security Department (VSD) of Lithuania refused to make any comments on detention of the Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) officer Vasily Khitryuk in Kaliningrad, Interfax says.

Diplomatic scandals between Moscow and Vilnius over alleged spying intensified after Lithuania’s accession to NATO and the European Union in 2004. In February 2004, Lithuania expelled three Russian diplomats for “illegal gathering of information on the impeachment of Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas.” Russia retaliated with expulsion of three Lithuanian diplomats, claiming their activities in Russia harmed the country’s interests. In August 2004, Russia also pronounced Lithuania’s military attache in Moscow a “persona non grata.” Two weeks ago the First Secretary of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Oleg Ryabchikov, was expelled from Lithuania on suspicion of espionage and attempting to apply pressure on the members of country’s parliament in relation to its support of Georgia.
See also: New Russia “Spy” Arrest
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