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Lithuania Detains Russian Citizen Suspected In 1991 Crackdown

Russian citizen Yury Mel (left) is brought to the district court in Vilnius on March 14.
A court in Vilnius has placed a Russian citizen suspected of taking part in the violent dispersal of Lithuanian pro-independence demonstrators in 1991 in two months of pretrial detention.

Yury Mel, 45, was detained on March 14 while entering Lithuania from Russia's European exclave of Kaliningrad.

Mel faces charges of crime against humanity and war crimes.

Fourteen protesters were killed in clashes between unarmed Lithuanian citizens and Soviet troops in Vilnius on January 13, 1991.

Thousands of Lithuanians had arrived in central Vilnius to defend the government, which had declared independence from the Soviet Union in March 1990.

Lithuania has outstanding international warrants for 80 people -- citizens of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine -- who they believe were soldiers and officers of the Soviet Army and were involved in the deadly 1991 clashes.

Based on reporting by and Interfax