Russia's repressions only encourage Lithuania to help declared "enemies" – formin

  • 2023-02-01
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Repressions only encourage Lithuania to help persecuted organizations and individuals, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday, commenting on Russian prosecutors' decision to declare the activities of the Lithuania-based Free Russia Forum undesirable.

"It's not the first organization, not the first persons granted asylum and the right to reside in Lithuania to be declared enemies or criminals in Russia. We have seen this trend and it does not change our position in any way. Quite the contrary, it further encourages us to help those people who chose Lithuania and asked for asylum here to be able to work and live freely without restrictions," Landsbergis told reporters on Wednesday before the Cabinet meeting.

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office earlier declared the activities of the Lithuanian-based Free Russia Forum as undesirable within the territory of Russia, according to the statement on the prosecution service's website.

It states that the activities of the Free Russia Forum "pose a threat to the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation" and cites it as the reason why the decision was made "to declare the activities of the Lithuanian organization undesirable within the territory of the Russian Federation".

The Free Russia Forum holds a biannual Russian opposition conference in Vilnius. The organization was founded in March, 2016 by Garry Kasparov who is recognized as a "foreign agent" in Russia.

The Russian authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown on the media and the opposition, which has further intensified since February, 2022 when President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine.

Russia adopted the law on "undesirable organizations" in 2015, giving the Prosecutor General's Office the right to label any foreign or international NGO if, in its opinion, the activities of these organizations threaten "the foundations of Russia's constitutional order, defense capabilities or security".

People face liability, and prosecution in some cases, for any involvement in and cooperation with undesirable organizations.