The Lithuanian Parliament Seimas Tuesday unanimously voted in favour of a resolution declaring the Wagner Group a terrorist organisation. The resolution stated that the group poses a threat to both the Lithuanian state and societal security. The group is accused of engaging in actions equivalent to terrorism as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Wagner Group is described as a private military mercenary group founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Concerns that companies of this type may be able to engage in “limited operations… mainly related to non-kinetic activities” were raised by Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence Lauryns Kasčiūnas, one of the sponsors of the resolution. Kasčiūnas stated that the Wagner Group has committed “systematic, serious crimes of aggression” in Ukraine.
Authorities hope that this resolution will prevent the recruitment of unwitting Lithuanian citizens and motivate other nations to also designate the Wagner Group as a terrorist organisation.
The actions follows March 10 reports that the Wagner Group recruited members by offering pardons and threatening prisoners. Additional concerns have been reported by the UN Human Rights Council, which stated that detainee recruits were allegedly “taken to Ukraine without identification documents and required to sign a contract with the Wagner Group.” A number of other human rights violations have been alleged against the group, including executing recruits who have attempted to escape and allowing superior officers to perpetrate violence against detainee recruits. According to the UN, these actions potentially amount to war crimes.
Sanctions have been imposed on the Wagner Group by the United States on January 27 and the EU on February 26 for their actions in Ukraine.