Lithuania to recall Austria envoy over ex-KGB agent release

Lithuania will summon home its ambassador to Austria in protest over the detention and release of a wanted ex-KGB colonel, presidential adviser Daiva Ulbinaite said on Monday.

Vienna police on Thursday freed Mikhail Golovatov 24 hours after he was detained on a European arrest warrant issued by Lithuania.

“In the president’s opinion, Austria’s haste in releasing the suspect cannot be politically justified. It compromises cooperation between the EU states on law and order,” Ulbinaite said.

Golovatov is believed to have been behind a Soviet crackdown on Lithuania’s push for independence.

Lithuanian Deputy Prosecutor General Andrius Nevera said on Sunday the actions of the Austrian authorities were “a gross violation of EU and international law.”

Austrian diplomats indicated the arrest warrant was too vague to merit Golovatov’s continued detention.

The international affairs committee of the Lithuanian parliament will request its allies in NATO and the European Union to assess Austria’s actions. The committee said Austria possibly violated one of the EU’s fundamental principles, the “principle of solidarity.”

A Lithuanian diplomat, requesting anonymity, told AFP that Lithuania suspected Russian involvement. “We have suspicions Russia put pressure on Austria,” the Lithuanian foreign ministry official said.

Golovatov was a former commander of the KBG’s Alpha Group. Lithuanian authorities accuse him of organizing the storming of the state television studio on January 13, 1991, in which 14 people were killed and dozens were injured.

He could face life imprisonment if convicted.

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