Lithuania must keep different sanctions on Russians, Belarusians – parlt speaker

  • 2023-08-31
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the parliament, has said she is sticking to her position that Lithuania has to continue applying different restrictions to Russian and Belarusian citizens. 

The government is unlikely to initiate legislative amendments to make Belarusian citizens subject to the same restrictions as those currently in place for Russians, according to Cmilyte-Nielsen.

"We briefly discussed this as well, because it is one of the topical issues. We just exchanged views," she told reporters after Wednesday's meeting of the council of the government coalition of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party. 

"I've commented on this several times before, and I don't think there's a need now to standardize the treatment of Russian and Belarusian citizens who are here in Lithuania," the speaker said.

"It seems unlikely that the government will initiate such a move, but it's up to the prime minister to comment on this," she added.  

However, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, who also took part in the coalition council's meeting, did not comment on the issue.

The parliament earlier this year passed a law on restrictive measures for Russian and Belarusian citizens, but the latter are subject to fewer restrictions.

The Law on Restrictive Measures in Response to Military Aggression against Ukraine has imposed temporary restrictions for Russians and Belarusians to obtain Lithuanian visas and e-resident status, and bans them from bringing Ukrainian hryvnias into Lithuania. The measures are in place from May 2 this year to May 3, 2024. 

However, Russian citizens face additional restrictions on entry to Lithuania and acquisition of real estate in the country. Lithuania also temporarily refuses to accept their residence permit applications 

The parliament finally adopted the law in late April, overriding a veto from President Gitanas Nauseda, who proposed to impose the same restrictions on Russian and Belarusian citizens.

Lithuanian politicians have returned to discussing the issue of the same restrictions for Russians and Belarusians after Minsk allowed the Wagner mercenary group to relocate to Belarus in the wake of its failed mutiny in Russia.