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Finland cancels visa of former KGB officer

The Finnish embassy in Moscow has annulled the Schengen visa it had previously issued to the former KGB officer Mikhail Golovatov, who is wanted by Lithuania. Finland says a spelling mistake in Golovatov's first name played a crucial role in why the visa was issued.

Venäläinen passi.
Image: YLE

Lithuania issued a warrant for Golovatov through the Schengen Information System (SIS), which allows for data sharing on individuals within the area.

Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs says that Finnish missions do use the SIS for checking information on visa applicants. However, according to the ministry, there was no data on Golovatov within the system in November 2009, when Finland issued the visa.

Golovatov’s first name is written differently in the Schengen system and in his passport, and the Finnish embassy in Moscow granted him a visa with the alternate spelling of his name.

Diplomatic row

Golovatov commanded the Alpha Group of the special forces of the Soviet Union at the time when it stormed the TV tower in Vilnius in 1991, killing 14 civilians.

He was detained in Austria’s capital Vienna last Thursday. Over Lithuania’s objections, Austria returned Golovatov to Moscow and only let Lithuania know after the fact. This has led to diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs says it has been in contact with the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry in regard to these events.

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