The Soviet Union and Germany signed the Boundary and Friendship Treaty on September 28, 1939. The secret appendix to the treaty contained a paragraph about Lithuania’s transition from the German to the Soviet sphere of influence. Lithuania was included in the German sphere of influence in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23, 1939.
Some Lithuanian politicians did not miss a chance to use that moment of history in their own goals. The autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is opening in Strasbourg today. Over 20 deputies, including some from Lithuania, introduced a special resolution on the agenda “to condemn the crimes of communism.”
The document obviously continues the story with the resolution approved by the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, in which Stalinism and Nazism were labeled as equal regimes. The resolution, which was approved in July of this year, triggered vehement protests in the Russian administration. Now it is the PACE that is going to consider a similar document.
It is not ruled out that Lithuania will attempt to claim a billion-dollar compensation from Russia for the so-called “Soviet occupation.” The nation, the economy of which has been declining for months due to the economic crisis, is in dire need of cash.
The Baltic nation raised the issue before the crisis too. In 1991, the date of September 28, 1939, is considered in the nation as the start of “the Soviet occupation.” The nation even conducted a referendum on June 14, 1992, when the majority of the Lithuanians said that Russia must compensate the damage caused during the years of the Soviet occupation.
Lithuania became a member of the European Union in 2004, and the issue of the compensation started to gain more and more popularity. The administration believed that its EU membership would give it an opportunity to show more pressure on Russia.
In 2005, the parliament of the country approved a resolution, urging Russia to acknowledge the Soviet occupation in the Baltic region and pay the damage. Another resolution appeared in 2007. In 2008, President Valdas Adamkus stated that Lithuania would continue the struggle with Russia seeking a 28-billion-dollar compensation.
A special committee of the parliament made a slight cut in the claimed amount to $23 billion. Deputies said that they would deliver the issue to international instances if Russia refused to make any payments to the country.
The Lithuanian officials resort to Russia’s recognition of the USSR’s economic and political legacy. Of course, they have forgotten about several very important things. The Soviet Union invested a lot in the economy and the infrastructure of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. The USSR did not conduct the deportation of Lithuanian nationals according to their national affiliation. Finally, the countries that won WWII were relieved of the obligation to pay any compensation to anyone.
Mikhail Alexandrov, an expert with the Institute for the CIS and the Baltic States, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Lithuania’s idea to claim the compensation from Russia could only be described as absurd.
“If Lithuania files such a lawsuit and wins the case, Russia will have to set forth its own claims in return. Russia could dispute the annexation of the Port of Klaipeda and the eastern part of Prussia from the Soviet Union to the Soviet Lithuania. Lithuania’s current capital appeared in 1939 owing to the “Soviet occupants” too – Vilnius, the nation’s capital, used to be the territory of Poland,” the expert said.
If Russia counter-claims, Lithuania will never be able to pay its debts.
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