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Belarusian authorities detained over hundred citizens who returned from abroad

Belarusian authorities detained over hundred citizens who returned from abroad The Lukashenko regime is systematically detaining people who have returned from abroad (photo: Getty Images)

Since the beginning of 2023, in the Republic of Belarus, at least 125 citizens have been detained upon their return to the country from abroad. Most often, people arriving from Lithuania were detained, according to LRT.

LRT cites data from the human rights center Viasna, according to which Belarusian citizens returning from Lithuania are most often detained at the border. Simultaneously, checks and detentions occur at all border crossings in Belarus, including those operating on the border with Russia.

Since September 2023, Belarusian citizens cannot exchange or renew their passports at embassies and consulates abroad; they must personally come to the country for this purpose. Additionally, Belarusians are required to return to the country for operations related to vehicles and real estate.

Belarusian human rights activists believe that these measures are taken to lure back citizens who oppose the Lukashenko regime and were forced to leave under the threat of criminal charges.

It is noted that most detentions occur after the phones of returnees are checked by KGB officers or customs officials. Later, many of those detained face administrative liability under the article on spreading extremist materials.

These facts led the Lithuanian authorities to announce the issuance of so-called foreigner passports to Belarusian citizens residing on its territory. Such documents will be issued to Belarusians who have faced repression in their homeland and cannot return to renew their documents. Currently, there are about a thousand such people in Lithuania.

Situation around Belarus

In Lithuania, there is a proposal to suspend the acceptance of applications from Belarusian citizens for temporary residence permits.

In early December, the United States imposed sanctions against Belarus, citing its assistance to Russia in the war and participation in the deportation of Ukrainian children.