Belarusian ambassador: refugee scare is a myth

  • 2006-05-17
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - The new Belarusian ambassador to Lithuania, Vladimir Drazhin, has denied information that Belarus is facing a wave of political exiles preparing to leave for neighboring countries.

"I think that this information is inconsistent with reality, as I have no other data at present," Drazhin told reporters on May 16.
The Russian news agency Interfax reported that some 100 Belarusian citizens had left their country, asking for political asylum in Ukraine. During a press conference in Kiev on May 15, refugees asked Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to grant permission for Belarusian students to study in Ukraine and support the fight for human rights in Belarus.
According to information available to Dmitry Dashkevich, a Belarusian opposition representative, refugees also intend to ask for asylum in Lithuania and Poland.

However, Lithuanian border and migration service officers told the Baltic News Service that the wave of political refugees had not reached Lithuania yet.
Migration Department Director Almantas Gavenas said that he had not received information about Belarusian citizens seeking asylum in recent days. Furthermore, no such cases have been reported at Lithuanian border checkpoints, where refugees can ask for asylum.

Lithuania has a 650-kilometer border with Belarus.
The European Union and the United States have dismissed March presidential elections in Belarus as undemocratic and unlawful. The elections were won by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Belarusian authorities arrested dozens of opposition representatives who protested against the election results.
Due to human rights violations and suppression of the opposition the current Minsk regime is called "the last dictatorship in Europe."