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Lithuanian report Lithuanian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-05 07:22:02
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Rights group calls for new CIA probe

A human rights group called on Lithuania on Thursday to reopen its investigation into CIA prisons and the alleged torturing of terrorist suspects based on what they said was new evidence of a rendition flight to the Baltic state. Julia Hall, an analyst with Amnesty International, said that a Boeing 727 allegedly carrying an al-Qaida suspect, Abu Zubaydah, landed in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on Feb. 17, 2005, after taking off from Morocco and refueling in Jordan.

"This is a previously undiscovered flight," said Hall. "It is crucial to note that this is a flight that does not appear in the parliamentary report, and we have never heard any explanation from the prosecutor general about this flight," she said. Two Lithuanian probes - one by a parliamentary committee and another by the country's prosecutors - concluded that there was no evidence that people were held in sites controlled by the CIA in the country.

In their 2009 report, Lithuanian lawmakers concluded that although the Baltic state provided two facilities to the CIA in 2002 and 2004, there was no evidence they ever held prisoners. For their part, prosecutors closed their own probe on whether the CIA facilities held prisoners in January this year for lack of evidence.

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Lithuania tries to heal rift over Holocaust


Stung by accusations about Lithuania’s complicity in the Holocaust, the Baltic nation’s foreign minister announced a series of measures aimed at bolstering its Jewish heritage during a concert at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The measures did little to allay the concerns of critics who had opposed YIVO’s decision to invite the minister to the September 22 gala in New York.
Dovid Katz, a former professor of Yiddish language, literature and culture at Vilnius University and author of defendinghistory.com, a website that is critical of the Lithuanian government, called the measures a “public relations ploy.”

Carl Rheins, a former executive director of YIVO, also was skeptical, particularly of a proposal to restore sections of the old Jewish quarter in Vilna, which was a major centre of Jewish culture until it was wiped out in the Holocaust. But Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, cautiously praised the “spirit and the content” of the address by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis. “They are still in the midst of denial, and as long as you deny, you can’t really come to grips,” said Foxman, who was raised in Vilna during World War II. But, he added, “If this is a first step of where it will go, that’s fine.”

YIVO’s invitation to Ažubalis to attend a concert of Yiddish music composed in the Vilna Ghetto was fiercely opposed by some Holocaust survivors and their advocates. They accuse the government of whitewashing Lithuanian involvement in the deaths of 95% of Lithuanian Jewry. Before the war, about 200,000 Jews lived in Lithuania. Today, the community numbers about 3,000. Writing in The New York Review of Books recently, Yale University historian Timothy Snyder said Lithuanians played a central role in the Lithuanian Holocaust. He said that during the first weeks of the Nazi invasion of the Baltic, Lithuanians killed 24,000 Jews in pogroms. They were also willing accomplices in the Holocaust that followed.

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Forget Russia reset


Russia's decision on its leadership change next year has effectively buried any hopes of a renewal of relations with the West, Lithuania's prime minister said. "No one should have illusions about how Russia will be ruled for decades to come," Andrius Kubilius told Lithuanian Radio. Lithuania is among Russia's harshest critics in the European Union and NATO.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that he had decided to reclaim the presidency next year, setting up the possibility that he could rule Russia until 2024. In nominating Putin, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that President Dmitry Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister. "All the restart policies or renewal of relations should now be locked in a deep drawer with a simple note attached: 'Here rest expired and naive dreams,'" Kubilius said Tuesday. He said Putin's decision was not a surprise.

"But it probably surprised someone somewhere in Berlin, Brussels or Washington, where those illusions were alive as some expected Russia would turn into a modern state. Those illusions are over," Kubilius said. Lithuania has most recently locked horns with Russia over natural gas prices. It currently receives 100 percent of its gas from Russia and believes it is paying too much. It has been attempting to negotiate a lower price with Moscow, so far unsuccessfully.



      
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