Lithuanian politicians mull warning travelers after Belarus extends visa-free entry

  • 2022-05-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Politicians in Vilnius are considering launching a social campaign to warn travelers of potential threats after Belarus has extended visa-free travel for Lithuanian citizens until the end of the year.

"A three-fold increase in flows from Lithuania means a three-fold increase in the risk of someone [...] whose weaknesses or other details of life can be used [by Belarus' authorities] going there," Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense (CNSD), told reporters on Monday. 

"There are risks and they have to be managed. I believe we should think about some kind of social campaign," he said. 

The CNSD held a meeting earlier on Monday to discuss Lithuanian intelligence agencies' National Threat Assessment 2022 report. 

Kasciunas said Belarus' decision to extend visa-free travel could be related to intelligence interests.

Following Minsk's announcement in mid-April of a one-month visa-free regime for Lithuanian and Latvian citizens, the Lithuanian State Security Department warned that Russian and Belarusian intelligence services were stepping up their efforts to recruit Lithuanian citizens coming to the neighboring country.

Rustamas Liubajevas, commander of Lithuania's State Border Guard Service, said on Monday that the number of people travelling from Lithuania to Belarus had tripled since the visa-free regime was announced.

The average number of people crossing from Belarus into Lithuania rose to 1,500 in May, up from 450 in April, including truck drivers.  

Lithuanians say they go to Belarus to shop and buy fuel, according to Liubajevas.