Lithuanian PM in favor of tighter restrictions for Belarusians

  • 2023-08-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte would be in favor of putting restrictions for Belarusian citizens on a par with the existing ones for Russians.

"I think there are a lot of grounds for this now," the prime minister told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Thursday.

The Seimas of Lithuania adopted a law on restrictive measures for Russian and Belarusian citizens earlier this year but it introduced fewer restrictions for the latter. And Simonyte says "the situation has changed in the meantime".

"The key thing that changed after this so-called Wagner mutiny is that (Alexander) Lukashenko decided to harbor a terrorist organization in his country," she said. "Clearly, this is changing the overall view of the situation and the understanding of the risks."

The prime minister stressed that humanitarian exemptions for opponents of the regime and opposition activists should remain in place.

The existing law restricts the granting of Lithuanian visas and electronic resident status for Russians and Belarusians until May 3, 2024, but Russian citizens are subject to additional restrictions for entering Lithuania, acquiring real estate, and their applications for residence permits in Lithuania are temporarily rejected.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda believes Belarusian citizens should be subject to the same sanctions as Russians, but the Seimas overrode his veto and left softer sanctions for Belarusians.

Lithuania now also plans to close two border checkpoints with Belarus – Sumskas and Tverecius - from mid-August.

Speaking on these plans, Simonyte said it was decided to consult regional partners.

"Such decisions have consequences for other countries," the prime minister said.

She cited Poland as an example as the closure of border checkpoints there led to an increase in truck lines in Lithuania.

"If we were to take such a decision, Latvia would undoubtedly suffer. Therefore, it was agreed that any further decisions, should they need to be taken, would be coordinated between the three countries," the Lithuanian prime minister said.