Lithuanians Spying for Russia

On January 8, Lithuania’s prosecutors announced that an investigation into two Lithuanian citizens accused of spying for Russia was handed over to court. Although the two individuals were not working together, they are suspected of being in contact with the same Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer in Kaliningrad. The officer at the Federal Security Service (FSB) speaks fluent Lithuanian and uses a fake identity, according to the country’s authorities.

The pre-trial investigation into alleged spying was launched upon receipt of information from the State Security Department regarding assignments for an intelligence organization of the Russian Federation carried out.

Prosecutors said they received evidence against the suspects from the State Security Department, Lithuania’s counter-intelligence agency. Elena Martinonienė, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, confirmed it was the same investigation reported last March. It involved a Klaipėda councilwoman Ela Andrejeva who was detained, but later given the status of a special witness.

Dovile Saulėnienė, a spokeswoman for Klaipėda Regional Prosecutor’s Office, told BNS that the suspects were Aleksejus Greičius, a public figure and managing director of the Baltic Youth Association Juvenis, and Mindaugas Tunikaitis. A resident of Pagėgiai, which is close to the border with Kaliningrad, Tunikaitis ran for the local council with the political party Lithuania’s List in 2015. Greičius ran for Klaipėda Council in 2015 on the Lithuanian Russian Union’s candidate list alongside Andrejeva. According to the investigation, one of the defendants, Tunikaitis, came into the Russian intelligence’s focus back in 2014.

Communication with the FSB officer started after he crossed a Lithuanian-Russian border checkpoint. The officer introduced himself as Petras and asked Tunikaitis to buy him a calendar or a bottle of wine in Lithuania. Later on, according to law enforcement, the relationship evolved into Tunikaitis taking on “anti-Lithuanian” assignments. He had to take photos of specific objects, collect information on individuals, attend events, hand over publications and publish information given by the FSB officer, among other tasks. According to the investigation, Tunikaitis received cash rewards which were named “support for health” or “compensation” for visa fees.

The second defendant, Greičius, met the same Russian intelligence officer in 2016 on social media. According to law enforcement, he headed a public organization and therefore was not surprised to receive a private message asking about its activities. The exchange of messages lasted several months, and later the defendant met with the officer, who introduced himself as Piotr, in Sovetsk, Kaliningrad. Investigators believe that the two agreed that Piotr would fully or partially fund events organized by Greičius’ organization. The defendant also agreed to take photos and videos of the events and hand over the material to Piotr. He also committed to collecting information about the events, preparing and publishing articles on designated Lithuanian media outlets. The investigation found that there were at least ten events funded by Piotr. The defendant continued his communication with Piotr even after State Security Department officers warned him that he was a Russian FSB officer. The defendant was fully aware that any communication with this person, execution of his assignments could be viewed as spying or assistance to another state and acting against the Republic of Lithuania, but he chose to continue this unlawful communication, according to the prosecution service. Greičius also allegedly introduced Piotr to other potential collaborators and collected information for him. Both Greičius and Tunikaitis were detained in early March last year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                With news from BNS and LRT

Photo Captions (no photo of Tunikaitis available):

Suspected spy Aleksejus Greičius of Klaipėda, human rights activist and director of the international youth organization Juvenis