VILNIUS, LITHUANIA - Lithuania blacklisted several dozen Russians and Ukrainians for their role in the detention and sentencing of the Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and two other Ukrainians, Lithuania's foreign minister said Tuesday.
Ukraine expanded sanctions against Russia last month after a Russian court found Savchenko, 34, guilty of complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists and sentenced her to 22 years in prison.
Ukraine called on the European Union to follow suit, and Lithuania became the first EU state to do so. The 46 people it blacklisted are banned from entering Lithuania for 10 years.
Those blacklisted include Russian investigators, prosecutors and judges, as well as separatists from the Ukrainian rebel strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told Reuters.
"We blacklisted them to show our solidarity with Ukraine, and to focus attention on the unacceptable and cynical violations of international law and human rights in Russia. We are convinced that the court cases against those people were falsified," Linkevicius told Reuters by phone.
"It would be more effective if the blacklist became Europe-wide. We hope to start such a discussion," he said.
Regarded as a national hero by many in her homeland, Savchenko has been depicted by Russian state TV as a dangerous Ukrainian nationalist with the blood of civilians on her hands.
Russia has ignored calls from the European Union and the United States to free her on humanitarian grounds.
Last year, a Russian court sentenced Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, 39, to 20 years in a high-security penal colony for "terrorist attacks" in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in April 2014.
The military court sentenced a second defendant, Crimea activist Alexander Kolchenko, 26, to 10 years in prison.