Baltic Fleet Cannot Meet February 1 Deadline for Providing Sailors with Passports for Travel through Lithuania

Service personnel of the Russian Baltic Fleet will not manage to acquire passports required for travel through Lithuania by the February 1 deadline. Consequently, according to a statement made yesterday at a press conference in Kaliningrad by Major-General German Shtadler, the Baltic Fleet's chief military prosecutor, they should be allowed to travel using their military identification at least until July 1, 2003.

Lithuania has announced that from February it will end transit through its territory on long-distance trains for military personnel using only military documents. However, according to Shtadler, it is simply unrealistic to issues passports to all those requiring them in the time remaining. He intends to raise this problem at a meeting with colleagues from the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office and the Russian Prosecutor General's Office which is due to take place in Moscow in the next few days.

Shtadler expressed the hope that the Russian and Lithuanian governments would treat his proposal with understanding and find a way to keep the current transit system for Russian service personnel stationed in the Kaliningrad Region operative until the summer. 'Otherwise we will have to resort to international legal proceedings relating to the infringement of human rights,' said the military prosecutor.

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