Lithuania's ruling block has will to override president's sanction veto – rep

  • 2023-04-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania's block will seek to override President Gitanas Nauseda's veto on national sanctions for Russians and Belarusians, Radvile Morkunaite-Mikuleniene, a vice-chair of the ruling conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, says, adding coalition partners supports this move.

"Yes," she told reporters on Tuesday before the parliament session, asked whether she had support within the ruling coalition to reject the veto.

Last week, the president vetoed the sanction bill and proposed imposing the same restrictions on Russian and Belarusian citizens.

The presidential office pointed out that the adopted law introduces seven different restrictive measures to ensure Lithuania's national security and foreign policy interests, including four for both Russian and Belarusian citizens, and also three that would apply solely to Russian citizens.

Morkunaite-Mikuleniene calls the distinction between Belarusian citizens is appropriate.

"It is appropriate, given our emotional attitude, given the attitude of some citizens of that country, and given the expectations of the opposition leader. I believe we should move in this direction and the Seimas has already made the decision," she said.

The president approves the goal of this law to impose restrictive measures on Russian and Belarusian citizens due to these states' military aggression against Ukraine. However, he points out that there is no reason to impose different legal regulation on citizens of the two aggressor states and proposes imposing the same restrictive measures on citizens of both countries.

In Nauseda's words, the two aggressor countries, "as a single militarized, hate-filled territorial entity", pose a threat not only to their neighbors and the region, but also to Europe as a whole. 

For his part, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says Russian and Belarusian citizens cannot be subject to the same sanctions as the Belarusian society is "fighting for its freedom and democracy".

The parliament adopted the Law on Restrictive Measures in Response to Military Aggression against Ukraine in early April.

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who lives in Vilnius, had asked for lighter restrictions for Belarusians.

According to the Migration Department, almost 49,000 Belarusian citizens lived in Lithuania at the start of this year. Most of them fled repression by the Lukashenko regime after the 2020 post-election mass demonstrations.

The law on national sanctions will replace the Seimas' resolution imposing a state of emergency on the Russian-Belarusian border, which expires in early May. It contains some of the restrictions that have now been transposed into the law.