Soviet KGB officers on trial in Latvia

The Chamber for Criminal Cases at the Supreme Court of Latvia has postponed the consideration of an appeal from Nikolai Larionov, a WWII veteran and a former Soviet KGB officer convicted last September on genocide charges.

Larionov, an 83-year-old Latvian national, will have to undergo forensic medical and psychiatric examinations before the Supreme Court considers his appeal against a district court's guilty verdict, convicting him of drawing up and signing resolutions on the banishment of 504 individuals to labor camps located in outlying areas of the Soviet Union in March 1949. The court qualified these actions as "a crime against humanity and genocide," and sentenced the man to five years in a high-security prison.

Larionov denies any wrongdoing. He says he acted on orders from the government of the Soviet republic of Latvia.

Defense lawyer Alexander Ogurtsov has submitted copies of documents corroborating the former KGB officer's point. He also pointed to the unjustifiably broad reading of genocide in the Latvian penal law. As he sees it, banishment is classified here as genocide without any valid grounds. Larionov's case has no evidence to prove he committed what the rest of the world calls genocide, the lawyer argues.

Larionov is Latvia's third citizen and its fourth permanent resident to have been convicted on charges of genocide against the Lettish. All of the convicts are former KGB officers. The Latvian Prosecutor General's Office is currently carrying out investigations into alleged crimes by several other Soviet security agents.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team