Lithuania’s honorary consul in Luhansk, Mykola Zelenec, has been killed in the rebel-held Ukrainian city.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius tweeted that Mykola Zelenec was “kidnapped & brutally killed by terrorists there”.
Ukraine routinely calls the pro-Russian separatists in Luhansk “terrorists”.
The news came amid reports that some Russian aid trucks had reached Luhansk without any permission from Ukraine.
There has been no comment from the rebels yet on the Lithuanian diplomat’s death.
Lithuania is among the most vociferous EU member states in its criticism of Russian actions in Ukraine. The EU and US accuse Russia of fomenting the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
The news of Mykola Zelenec’s killing came amid reports that some Russian aid trucks had reached Luhansk without any permission from Ukraine
Linas Linkevicius described the entry of the Russian aid convoy into eastern Ukraine as “a blatant violation of international law”, echoing Ukraine’s condemnation of the move.
The UN Security Council is holding an emergency session at Lithuania’s request to discuss the issue.
The Ukraine crisis has heightened tensions between Russia and the three Baltic republics – including Lithuania – which used to be Soviet republics governed from Moscow.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, lambasted the Lithuanian delegation on Friday.
He scorned “the indefatigable delegation of Lithuania, which is always torpedoing all productive, constructive initiatives we’ve had in the Security Council”.
Vitaly Churkin said Lithuania had amended a Russian proposal calling for a ceasefire while the aid was distributed in Luhansk. He said the Lithuanian delegation “sent in amendments where they dropped the reference to Russia and included a reference to the European Union, and then dropped the reference to a ceasefire”.
At the UN, Vitaly Churkin added, “the Lithuanian delegation starts working, and of course we know the division of labor – the US and UK are not far behind”.
Lithuanians have begun voting for a new parliament in a ballot seen in the wider EU as a test for austerity policies to tackle the economic crisis.
Opinion polls suggest the centre-right government will be punished for cutting pensions and public sector pay.
Under its leadership, the economy has rebounded but analysts say it is too soon for voters to feel the impact.
A centre-left government promising to raise wages and reduce taxes for the poor is expected to emerge.
Lithuania enjoyed an economic boom fuelled by cheap Scandinavian loans until the 2008 world financial crisis.
That crisis saw economic output drop by 15%, unemployment climb and thousands of young people in the Baltic nation of 3.3 million emigrate in search of work.
Under Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius’s coalition government, GDP grew by 5.8% last year – one of the fastest rates of any EU economy – and the budget deficit has been tamed.
The price was swingeing cuts to the extent that only every third street lamp in the capital Vilnius was allowed to be lit and fuel for police cars was rationed.
“They cut my pension,” a 72-year-old man selling souvenirs in the capital Vilnius told Reuters news agency.
“I have to keep working because otherwise I won’t be able to afford the rent on my apartment, or the electricity bills.”
Opinion polls suggest the Social Democrats under Algirdas Butkevicius will do best at the polls, followed by their potential coalition ally, the Labour Party.
Algirdas Butkevicius promises to raise the minimum wage, make the rich pay more tax and put back euro entry until 2015, a year later than scheduled.
By delaying euro entry he could run a bigger deficit than euro accession rules permit. Of the Baltic states which joined the EU, only Estonia has so far joined the eurozone.
Analysts say that if the centre-left win, economic factors will oblige them to stick largely to the existing austerity programme.
The parties of the left have also promised to improve the ex-Soviet state’s strained relations with Russia, still Lithuania’s biggest trade partner.
In addition to the parliamentary election, Lithuanians are voting in a non-binding referendum on building a new nuclear power station, a project which could reduce dependence on Russian energy supplies.
Just before the election, PM Andrius Kubilius announced a lawsuit against Russian gas monopoly Gazprom for 5 billion lita ($1.9 billion), alleging that it had overcharged for deliveries.