Viewing cable 08VILNIUS958
Title: (U) PARLIAMENT REJECTS LAW TO EQUATE NAZI AND

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08VILNIUS9582008-11-06 15:37:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
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DE RUEHVL #0958/01 3111537
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P 061537Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3052
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 2636
RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA PRIORITY 3517
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN PRIORITY 7139
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000958 
 
SIPDIS 
 
ALSO FOR EUR/OHI 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/06/2018 
TAGS: LH PGOV PREL EUN
SUBJECT: (U) PARLIAMENT REJECTS LAW TO EQUATE NAZI AND 
SOVIET CRIMES 
 
Classified By: DCM Damian Leader for reason 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
¶1. (C) Summary: Lithuania,s outgoing parliament on November 
6 failed to outlaw praise or denial of Soviet aggression 
against Lithuania, but backers of the measure expect to try 
again next year. They said their bill was the first step in 
an effort to have the European Union legally equate the 
Soviet regime,s crimes with the acts of Nazi Germany.  End 
Summary. 
 
¶2. (C) Lithuania,s parliament, the Seimas, on November 6 
voted down amendments to the criminal code that would make it 
illegal to condone, deny or trivialize acts of genocide, war 
crimes, crimes against humanity or "aggression by the USSR or 
Nazi Germany directed against the Republic of Lithuania." 
Violators would face up to two years in prison.  Dainius 
Zalimas, who is head of the international-law department at 
Vilnius University and is an advisor to the Ministry of 
Defense, crafted the proposed amendments.  He said they were 
based on the European Council of Ministers, framework 
decision on racism and xenophobia, passed in April 2007, but 
went beyond that European model.  Zalimas told us that under 
the proposed amendments, "Genocide in Lithuania would also 
include the extermination of people based on their political 
convictions.  The specific nature of Soviet crimes was that 
they were based more on grounds of political convictions.  We 
regard the Soviet regime in more or less the same way, on the 
same footing as the Nazis." 
 
Genocide definitions differ 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶3. (U) Since 1998, Lithuania,s legal definition of genocide 
has included as an underlying factor the intent to destroy 
people belonging to "social or political groups" as well as 
groups defined by reference to race, color, religion, 
descent, and national or ethnic origin.  The EU framework 
decision on racism and xenophobia does not include social or 
political groups in its definition of genocide. 
 
¶4.  (C)  Parliamentarian Vilija Aleknaite-Abramikiene, who 
introduced the bill in parliament, told us her goal was to 
have the European Union eventually make Soviet crimes against 
occupied countries, such as Lithuania, equivalent to the 
Holocaust.  Zalimas further told us it did not matter whether 
the Soviet Union,s actions in Lithuania were defined as 
genocide or as crimes against humanity.  He said focus on the 
definition of genocide or debating whether Soviet and Nazi 
actions were equivalent served to take attention away from 
the main point.  "It is better to criminalize all such 
crimes.  The most important thing is to punish them, whether 
you call it denial of genocide or denial of crimes against 
humanity." 
 
¶5. (C) Emanuelis Zingeris, the only Jewish member of 
Lithuania,s parliament and Chair of the International 
Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and 
Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, told us that denial 
of the Holocaust as well as of Soviet crimes against 
Lithuania should be outlawed.  Zingeris said, however, "They 
should not create equivalence.  They are not equal.  It,s 
two separate and horrible crimes.  The Soviet actions were 
based on colonizing another nation."  But both regimes, he 
said, killed millions of Europeans, including many thousands 
of Lithuanians. 
 
Reasons for failure unclear 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶6. (C) It is not at all clear that the amendments were voted 
down on their merits.  They were combined before the vote 
with unrelated proposals to protect wild mushrooms and other 
flora, and some parliamentarians voted against the entire 
package just to oppose the mushroom measures.  But the 
strongest support came from the Conservative party, which won 
October elections and will lead the ruling coalition in the 
new Seimas that convenes later in November.  Under 
parliamentary rules, the proposed amendments cannot be 
reintroduced for six months, and Aleknaite-Abramikiene, a 
Conservative, promised after the vote to do so.  Still, not 
all Conservatives supported the measures. One Conservative 
parliamentarian, Kelutis Cilinskas, said the proposal would 
criminalize expressions of opinion and veered close to 
"political persecution."  Prospects for eventual passage of 
the measures are not clear. 
 
¶7. (U) The Conservatives have lumped Soviets and Nazis 
together before. In June 2008, the party successfully 
 
spearheaded passage of a law making illegal the display of 
either Nazi or Soviet symbols.  While police have used the 
law to confiscate paraphernalia from souvenir sellers and 
others, two youths arrested for wearing Nazi and Red Army 
uniforms at a historical display were acquitted in October of 
violating the law. 
 
¶8. (C) Comment: Lithuania suffered grievously at the hands of 
both German and Soviet aggressors, although the Soviet 
occupation lasted decades and is more bitterly remembered 
here.  Lithuania has not handled its Holocaust legacy well 
since regaining independence, and has with some justification 
been accused of whitewashing its own citizens, roles in 
killing Jewish Lithuanians.  While this legislative proposal 
was an attempt to require equal legal treatment of statements 
regarding Lithuania,s suffering under the Soviets and the 
Jews, treatment by the Nazis, the bill,s drafters appeared 
to be pushing an agenda of moral equivalence as well, and are 
unlikely to let this defeat stop them.  End comment. 
CLOUD