According to the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project has already been coordinated with the local authorities and all permits have been received but the coronavirus pandemic might undermine the planned work.

"The plan is to get a specialist team from the service for the protection of cultural valuables involved in the reburial but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions, including the mandatory 14-day quarantine and the existing ban on international flights in Kazakhstan, it remains unclear if the arrival of a Lithuanian delegation of specialists could be organized so that they could start work as scheduled in July," the ministry told BNS.

Nine Lithuanians are buried at the Rudnyk Cemetery, lying very close to each other and forming a certain Lithuanian memorial marked with a concrete cross.

The cemetery, as everything around it, is nearing total disappearance as a copper vein has been found in that location and there are plans to set up a mine.

The remains would be transferred to the Spassk Memorial near Karaganda as monuments for the memory of political prisoners and deportees from many European and Asian countries stand here.

Representatives of the Kazakhstan government warned all interested parties several years ago that the Rudnyk cemetery would be leveled, setting the reburial deadline for the middle of 2020.

A former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan housed several dozen gulags and some 20,000 political prisoners from Lithuania were jailed there. Only Russia exceeds Kazakhstan in terms of the scope of imprisonment and burial of Lithuanians.

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