Russia threatens NATO state’s foreign minister with criminal charges
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis could be prosecuted over his calls for regime change in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
According to Zakharova, in a recent meeting with fugitive Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Landsbergis openly called for “a violent change of government” in Russia.
The Lithuanian foreign minister claimed “no one in Europe and the world” was safe from the “Kremlin regime,” and therefore Vilnius wanted to see “active opposition to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin not only abroad, but also in Russia itself,” which would “seek changes to the Russian political system,” according to Baltic media that quoted Landsbergis.
“This is unacceptable behavior for the head of a foreign ministry, although we understand perfectly well that [Landsbergis and others like him] have long stepped over the line and gone completely beyond any legal framework,” Zakharova told reporters at the daily press briefing.
She noted that this was not the first time Landsbergis has voiced “extremist ideas,” for which Russia has already sanctioned him, and that he should know he faces criminal liability for such statements “in accordance with Russian legislation, and also with international practice.”
Lithuania and the neighboring Baltic states have been among the most vocal allies of Ukraine within the EU and NATO, leading the pack in calling for “regime change” in Moscow as the ultimate objective of the proxy conflict.
Earlier this week, Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius presented a draft report to the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, calling for the bloc to pursue a “change of power in Russia.” According to Kubilius, the EU should work with “democratic forces” in and outside Russia to topple the current leadership and establish a “transitional government,” and the bloc should help Russian activists working to that effect by issuing them “democracy passports” so they could get around Western sanctions.
Officially, the US and its allies have denied that their financial and military support for Ukraine is driven by the desire to see a pro-Western regime installed in Moscow. US President Joe Biden articulated precisely that as his objective in March 2022, however. When his aides tried to walk those remarks back, Biden insisted that he meant what he said.
In October 2022, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton cited Biden’s words to argue that the US should definitely work towards a coup in Moscow, insisting that it “must involve far more than simply replacing Putin” and that “the whole regime must go.”