Soviet OMON assaults on Lithuanian border posts

Several Soviet OMON assaults on Lithuanian border posts occurred in 1991, after Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990, and began establishing control of its borders with Belarus. Two of the incidents resulted in the deaths of Lithuanian citizens.


The Lithuanian custom officers in the newly established checkpoints were not armed. The declared independence of Lithuania was not recognised by the Soviet Union until later, and the assaults had already taken place. The Soviet government viewed the customs posts as illegal, and sent the OMON troops against them. In some of the attacks the custom officers and policemens were beaten or killed, in other the infrastructure was destroyed (e.g. border posts were burned down and wrecked) or it was otherwise attempted to disrupt the work of the checkpoints.

Early attacks

Following January 11-13 events in Vilnius when 14 civilians were killed near the Vilnius TV Tower, Soviet troops attacked and burned border posts in Medininkai and Lavoriškės on January 27, 1991. The Krakūnai Incident happened on May 19, 1991 at the Krakūnai border post. The Border Guard officer, Gintaras Žagunis, was killed. In total, about thirty officers were attacked and injured.

The Medininkai Massacre

The massacre was the attack of Soviet OMON (garrisoned at Riga) against the Lithuanian customs post at the Medininkai border crossing point near the Vilnius-Minsk highway on July 31, 1991, at the time when George H. W. Bush was visiting the Soviet Union. It is thought that the attack took place at 4 am because one of the victims' clocks stopped at this hour.

Seven officers - Mindaugas Balavakas and Algimantas Juozakas (officers of the Special Division Aras), Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas (Highway Police officers), Antanas Musteikis, Stanislovas Orlavičius and Ričardas Rabavičius (Customs Officers) - were shot and killed. Customs Officer Tomas Šernas was severely wounded and became disabled. The unarmed officers were shot in the head, execution style. Those killed were buried in the Antakalnis Cemetery. The victims were awarded the order, the Cross of Vytis (September 6, 1991) and the Medal of the 13th of January (January 9, 1992). The post was turned into a memorial.


Many of the men suspected by the Lithuanian government as being responsible for these incidents are now citizens of Russia. These events are perceived as harming the relationship between Russia and Lithuania, because the Lithuanian government continues to demand that the persons suspected in these incidents should be interrogated and tried in Lithuania if necessary, while Russia refuses to legally cooperate motivating that such actions would violate their constitution.

Czeslaw Mlynnik, commander of the Riga OMON troops that participated in the Medininkai shootout, was jailed for four years in Latvia during the investigation of the incident, and is currently a citizen of Russia.


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