Lithuania has strongly advised its citizens not to travel to Belarus due to the recent “aggressive and provocative behaviour” by the Belarusian authorities towards Lithuanian citizens who are currently present or have recently visited the country.
In a recent statement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania stated that Lithuanian citizens are facing a concerning situation where there is a risk of unlawful detention following the imposition of fabricated charges.
According to the same, Lithuanian citizens who are travelling have been subjected to interrogations at border checkpoints, including tactics such as blackmail and psychological pressure to force them into cooperating with authorities.
“During the interrogations at the border, smart devices are taken from travellers – phones, computers, contacts, correspondence, and other information are checked, which can later be used not only against them, but also against their family members, relatives, and acquaintances,” the statement reads.
In this regard, the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Aleksandr Lukashenko, pointed out that Lithuanian citizens inside Belarus may find themselves in provocative and dangerous situations. He also added that government officials and civil servants are included in these possibilities.
As the Ministry explains, during the regime of Prime Minister Lukashenko in July 2021, a decision was made to drastically reduce Lithuania’s diplomatic presence in Belarus to only one Lithuanian diplomat. In addition, the aggressive and illegal actions of the Belarusian authorities have further limited the embassy’s ability to assist Lithuanian citizens in most situations.
As a result, stands have been installed at six border points to remind citizens regarding the advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to travel to Belarus and encouraging those already in the country to leave immediately.
Recently, operations at two of the six border control points (BCPs) along the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, specifically the Šumsk and Tverecius border crossing points, have been temporarily suspended.
Announcing the decision, Lithuania’s Chancellor of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ramūnas Dilba, said that, as of now, there has been a change in permits issued for different types of vehicles at Šumsk and Tverecius border crossings along the Lithuanian-Belarusian border.
In July of this year, Lithuanian authorities also increased their inspection protocols for people entering the country, particularly from the neighbouring countries of Belarus and Russia.
Data provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs show that from January 1, 2023, until the end of June, a total of 1,200 Belarusian and 1,300 Russian nationals have been denied entry into Lithuania.