On the Lithuanian side of the border with Belarus, red information boards have been installed, warning in Lithuanian and English that after crossing the border “you can never come back”. According to the data of the border guard, about 52,000 people enter Belarus every month from Lithuania.
“From now on, billboards with a warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be placed at six border crossings to welcome all travelers to the country ruled by the Lukashenko regime,” the Lithuanian State Border Protection Service (VSAT) said in a statement.
“Don’t jeopardize your safety, don’t go on Belarusbecause you may never come back,” reads the inscription on the red board. The warning boards are another step taken by the country’s authorities, aimed at discouraging their citizens from leaving for Belarus.
The situation on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been advising against traveling to Belarus for many months. It informs about recruitment attempts and the possibility of illegal detention under fabricated charges.
Recalls that the capacity of the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk to react quickly to all possible consular matters has been drastically reduced as the Lukashenko regime reduced its diplomatic presence two years ago Lithuania in Belarus to one diplomat.
Prof. Dainius Żalimas, former president of the Constitutional Court, in an interview with the public television LRT, admits that “when it comes to the freedom of movement of citizens, we cannot completely ban our citizens from traveling”, but “we can make it difficult for them”.
In the Lithuanian public space, there is talk of the need to leave only one of the current six border crossings with Belarus. The authorities announce that from August 15 they will close two crossings. It is also proposed to reduce the number of bus trips from Vilnius to Minsk. Now there are 19 of them every day.
“They may become victims of provocations, recruitment attempts”
In spring 2022, Belarus introduced visa-free travel for Lithuanian citizens, Latvia and Poland. According to VSAT data, this year 170,000 Lithuanians took advantage of the visa-free entry to Belarus, and since April last year – over 400,000 Lithuanian citizens.
– The Lukashenko regime is trying to attract Lithuanian citizens, who are probably a source of both revenue and currency for it. On the other hand, we must make it clear that they may become victims of provocations, recruitment attempts, illegal activities – emphasizes Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas.
According to the Lithuanian border guard, most Lithuanians entering Belarus declare that they are going to visit friends, for tourist purposes and for shopping. About 52,000 people enter Belarus every month from Lithuania. The border between the countries is 650 km long.
Main photo source: VSAT