VILNIUS – Lithuania's intelligence say they have been recording intensified efforts by the Minsk regime to recruit and infiltrate informants and potential provocateurs into the circles of opposition politicians and public organizations that have taken refuge in Lithuania.
The State Security Department (VSD) said on Thursday that the regime is thus trying to gather information about Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader based in Vilnius, and those around her.
The 15min news website was the first to report about the intelligence agency's warnings on Thursday.
"These (efforts) intensified after Minsk initiated hybrid attacks on the EU's borders, artificially massing large groups of irregular migrants in the neighborhood of Lithuania and Poland," VSD said.
According to the intelligence agency, Alexander Lukashenko on October 17 summoned top KGB officials and publicly urged them "to increase the effectiveness of foreign intelligence" by strengthening its offensive power and growing the capacity of agent-based intelligence and "other methods and forms".
"As an increasing number of Belarusians apply for humanitarian visas or political asylum, Lithuanian intelligence has warned that the Belarusian KGB may try to recruit some refugees or infiltrate its agents among them," VSD said.
"The aim is to collect information on Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who currently resides in Lithuania, and her circle, as well as Belarusian public organizations and their members, to help to identify their potential vulnerability and to try to discredit them and influence their actions, decisions and statements," it said.
In April 2021, Lithuania blacklisted Ilya Begun, a Belarusian man who had entered the country through the so-called humanitarian corridor, on a humanitarian visa obtained through the mediation of an authoritative human rights organization, VSD noted.
According to the agency, begun in early 2021 left Lithuania for Belarus in a hurry, presumably after completing an assignment. He even left behind some of his personal documents. Shortly afterwards, some Belarusian organizations based in Vilnius reported that certain data had been stolen from their computers.
As soon as he arrived in Belarus, Begun took part in a program on ONT, the TV channel serving the regime, where he said that he was disappointed with the opposition in exile and that he had realized that it was working against the state.
Soon afterwards, he joined the so-called Round Table of Democratic Forces, which claims to be an opposition organization but is working with the regime's approval.
15min say they have collected information pointing to a similar situation.
Sources have told the website that Andrei Abramenko, a former Belarusian law enforcement officer, approached them while still in Belarus and asked them to help him enter Lithuania illegally and apply for asylum.
Abramenko allegedly crossed into Lithuania illegally in Varena District and then disappeared. A few weeks later, the man's account of migrant smuggling across the border appeared on YouTube, along with allegedly secretly recorded conversations with Lithuanian officials.
The intelligence agency warned Belarusian refugees against being recruited by the Minsk regime and getting involved in criminal activities in Lithuania.