Lithuania declares state of emergency at Belarusian border as of midnight

  • 2021-11-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian lawmakers on Tuesday decided to declare a state of emergency at the Belarusian border as of midnight after 122 MPs voted in favor and one voted against.

The state of emergency will be in place for one month as of November 10 along the border stretch and five kilometers inland, as well as in the migrant accommodation facilities in Kybartai, Medininkai, Pabrade, Rukla and Vilnius.

The state of emergency has been introduced in response to the government's proposal that was put before the Seimas by Speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen earlie in the day.

"Declaring a state of emergency is necessary, and, under the plan, it would come into force on November 10 for one month, only at the Belarusian border, five kilometers from it and at foreigners' accommodations places," Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen said when introducing the bill.

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte noted that a state of emergency would be declared for the first time in an independent Lithuania's history.

"A state of emergency is an instrument that has never been used in our independent state's practice," she said, adding that it's one of the reasons why it would be declared for one month. Once it passes, the need to extend it will be considered.

The prime minister also pointed out that some restrictions would apply migrants crossing the border illegally, and other would apply to Lithuanian residents.

Under the state of emergency, the movement of vehicles in the border area without border guards' permission will be restricted, and entry into this territory will be banned, except for local residents as will as those having real estate in this area and having necessary evidence.

Services will have the right to check vehicles and persons, their belongings in areas under the state of emergency, as well as seize illegally-possessed weapons, ammunition, explosives and other hazardous materials, as well as detain law offenders. Gatherings will also be banned in such areas.

Migrants who entered Lithuania and were accommodated in the country will see their right to communicate in writing or by telephone restricted, except for the possibility to contact the country's authorities.

The Lithuanian government proposed declaring a state of emergency in response to the existing situation at the Polish border where several thousand illegal migrants have massed on the Belarusian side.