VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has dismissed as unfounded Russia's claims that Lithuania is interfering in Belarus' internal affairs.
"It's not up to Russia to teach lessons about the use of violence and interference in other countries' affairs," he told reporters in Vilnius on Wednesday. "We know that from experience".
The minister's comment came in response to a claim by the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman that Lithuania is destabilizing the situation in Belarus and interfering in the neighboring country's internal affairs.
"Such steps, which the Lithuanian masters of political intrigue are trying disguise as a desire to 'help' Belarusians, in reality only destabilize the situation," Maria Zakharova said in a comment on Tuesday evening.
"Instead of allowing the current crisis to be solved by Belarusian people themselves, the head of Lithuanian diplomacy is openly forcing on the Belarusians what he sees as the 'right' solution," she added.
Linkevicius hit back at Zakharova, saying, "It's not up to for Russia to teach the rules of etiquette which it itself hasn't observed for a long time."
The minister said Lithuania was not imposing any decisions or opinions on Belarus.
"We did help people facing a threat – a direct threat to their health, and maybe even life, who knows, but that's not interference in the internal affairs of the country," he said.
Lithuania has taken in several Belarusian opposition activists and protesters who fear for their safety in their home country. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leading opposition candidate in Belarus' August 9 presidential election, currently lives in Lithuania.
Lithuanian leaders have called on the international community to support efforts to hold a fair presidential election in Belarus and strongly condemn the repression by the Belarussian authorities.
Lithuania has also initiated an EU fund for Belarusians affected by repression.