Updated: Friday, 20 December 2013 02:33 | By Agence France-Presse

Lithuanian leader to snub Sochi Olympics

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite said Thursday she would boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi over Russia's foreign policy toward its neighbours.


Lithuanian leader to snub Sochi Olympics

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite gives a press conference in Athens on December 11, 2013

Grybauskaite said she will not attend the February event due to human rights violations and economic sanctions by Soviet-era master Moscow against her Baltic nation, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

"When I see human rights violations and the behaviour towards Eastern partners, economic sanctions, including against Lithuania, I see no political possibility to attend the Sochi games," Grybauskaite told Lithuanian media in Brussels.

Her interview was released in Vilnius by her press office.

The presidents of France and Germany also recently announced they would not attend the Olympic games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but they did not specify whether this was related to human rights issues in Russia.

Meanwhile, President Andris Berzins in Baltic neighbour Latvia vowed this week to go to Russia, accusing those calling for a boycott of "Cold War" thinking.

Moscow banned dairy imports from Lithuania in October amid a row over the Baltic state's drive as EU president to draw ex-Soviet nations such as Ukraine closer to the European Union.

Rights groups have criticised Russia for the way workers recruited to build the sporting venues in Sochi have been treated and for its anti-gay legislation.

The first republic to break free from the Soviet Union in 1990 which went on to join the EU and NATO in 2004, Lithuania has had frosty relations with Moscow since independence. 

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