Lithuanian ForMin proposes extending restrictions for Russians, Belarusians

  • 2024-01-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania's Foreign Ministry has proposed extending the exiting restrictions on Russian and Belarusian citizens, in place until May, for another year. The restrictions on Belarusian nationals would be tightened but not put completely on par with those on Russian nationals.

In cases where Belarusian nationals arrive on a Schengen visa, an additional risk assessment would be carried out to assess the threat their arrival poses to public order, internal security, public health or international relations.

Border guards would also decide on the further screening of the Belarusian national at the second line of control at the checkpoints, while Russian nationals are already subject to this individual additional in-depth risk screening. Visa issuance for both Russians and Belarusians is already restricted right now.

Some exceptions are made for family members of citizens of Lithuania or other European Union countries, members of crews transporting international cargo and passengers, as well as people coming on humanitarian grounds and their family members.

Last year, the Lithuanian Seimas adopted a law on restrictive measures for Russian and Belarusian nationals, but the latter are now subject to fewer restrictions. The existing restrictions are in force until May 2.

There are now restrictions in place for Russians and Belarusians to obtain Lithuanian visas and electronic resident status, but Russians are subject to additional restrictions on their ability to enter Lithuania, purchase real estate, and their applications for residence permits in Lithuania are temporarily rejected. 

The Foreign Ministry suggests extending these restrictions until May 2, 2025.

"The war launched by Russia against Ukraine on February 24, 2022 is still ongoing and the reasons for which the law was adopted have not disappeared. Russia's actions have a significant negative impact not only on the security of EU and NATO members, but also on the security of Europe as a whole," the ministry states.

The accompanying letter also points out that the ministry is also proposing certain restrictive measures on Belarusian nationals in view of the information provided by the Lithuanian special services on the increased activities of the Belarusian special services in using their nationals in Lithuania as a cover for their activities.

Lithuanian politicians are split on the issue of introducing the same restrictions for Belarusians and Russians. President Gitanas Nauseda believes that Belarusian citizens should be subject to the same sanctions as Russians, but the Seimas rejected his veto.

Several members of the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats have registered amendments proposing to tighten restrictions on Belarusian citizens, putting them on par with Russian nationals, with an exception only for Belarusians coming to Belarus to work in highly skilled jobs. The liberal groups in the Lithuanian parliament are the most vocal against the proposed tightening.