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Lithuanian Court Sends Politician To Six Years In Prison For Spying For Russia

Algirdas Paleckis (file photo)

A Lithuanian court has sentenced politician Algirdas Paleckis to six years in prison after finding him guilty of spying for Russia.

The Siauliai district court also ruled on July 27 that businessman Deimantas Bertauskas, who testified against Paleckis, would avoid any criminal prosecution in the case.

The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office had sought nine years in prison for Paleckis, a politician who has been known for his pro-Russian views and questioned Lithuania's membership in NATO and the European Union.

According to the Prosecutor-General's Office, Paleckis and an unspecified number of other Lithuanian citizens allegedly collected information for Russian intelligence for money between February 2017 and October 2018.

Paleckis and several other Lithuanian citizens were arrested in December 2018 and charged with spying for Russia, which caused an angry reaction from Moscow.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time that the arrests were "another Russophobic move" and a "reversal of democratic rights and freedoms" in Lithuania. She did not explain the grounds for her statements.

Since 2014, when Russia's seizure of Crimea and backing of separatists in a war in eastern Ukraine raised concerns among some other former Soviet republics, Lithuanian courts have convicted several people of spying for Russia or its close ally, Belarus.

Based on reporting by Delfi, BNS, and TASS