Lithuania Implements Screening for Belarusians Over Views on Ukraine Invasion

Written by Camilla Jessen

Feb.28 - 2024 10:34 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Lithuania is set to question 18,000 Belarusians on their stance regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, intensifying security measures amid rising tensions with neighboring Belarus.

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Lithuania is set to question 18,000 Belarusians, who arrived in the country before 2022, on their stance regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Migration Department Director Evelina Gudzinskaite.

This measure, introduced in November 2022, also applies to Russians relocating to Lithuania and involves completing a detailed questionnaire.

With a diverse population of 2.8 million, Lithuania is home to 224,800 foreigners, including 62,500 Belarusians.

The move comes in response to the influx of Belarusians escaping the oppressive regime of Alexander Lukashenko after the controversial 2020 presidential elections. Given Vilnius's proximity to Minsk, Lithuania has become a refuge for those seeking democracy.

Gudzinskaite mentioned that the responses from those yet to complete the questionnaire would be evaluated, and any concerning findings would prompt consultation with the State Security Department. A negative assessment could lead to the revocation of residence permits.

"The absence of a response to the questionnaire will be seen unfavorably," Gudzinskaite stated.

Although the questionnaire's content remains confidential, it reportedly includes questions about the territorial ownership of Crimea among others.

To date, the screening process has identified 1,644 Belarusians and 397 Russians as potential security risks to Lithuania, as reported by Delfi.

Furthermore, Lithuania plans to reduce its border crossings with Belarus to only two starting March, following the closure of two checkpoints in February and two additional ones in August 2023. Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite linked the decision to the growing threats from Belarusian intelligence and security activities directed at Lithuania and its citizens.

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