ECHR Has Expanded the Interpretation of the Term "Genocide"

28 March 2019

During the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, mass destruction of the partisan movement took place. Modern Lithuania estimates human losses in 500,000 people (with a total population of almost 3 million). In 2003, the Lithuanian Criminal Code recognized this activity of Soviet power in its territories as genocide, adding the two criteria of the genocide – political and social ground – to the existing ones (the destruction of groups of people by national, ethnic, racial and religious grounds). The Lithuanian court has issued a number of prosecution decisions in the criminal cases of veterans of the Ministry of State Security who participated in the operations for exterminating the Lithuanian partisans and stayed in independent Lithuania.

However, these decisions were regularly appealed by defendants at the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg). And now, the ECHR rejected the appeal of former KGB staff member Stanislavas Dreilingas, who was found guilty a year earlier of helping in committing the crime of genocide in Lithuania.

This decision is important in the interpretation of the term “genocide,” which may now include the actions of the Soviet Union. It is known that during the writing of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Soviet representatives excluded political and social groups from the text in order to avoid punishment for the USSR crimes.

Those who deny the Holodomor, refer to the thesis of Russian propaganda that the Holodomor was against the farmers, not against Ukrainians. We remind that in 2009, during the official investigation conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine on the crime of genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933, it was argued that the intention of the leadership of the Soviet Union was to exterminate the part of the Ukrainian national group, which is of prime importance in the proving of genocidal nature of the crime.