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Migrants at the borders of Poland and Lithuania. Journalist Tadeusz Giczan about “Operation Lock”

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Recently, the number of migrants trying to illegally get from Belarus to Poland and Lithuania has increased significantly. According to the Belarusian opposition journalist of the Next channel, Tadeusz Giczan, this is the result of organized activities in Minsk under the code name “Operation Lock”. As he writes on his blog, Belarus 10 years ago developed the currently implemented action of bringing migrants to the borders with European Union countries.

The number of migrants trying to cross the border illegally with Poland and Lithuania has recently increased rapidly, this is the result of organized actions by the Belarusian authorities, claims Giczan, who analyzed the information available on the Internet on this subject.


Minsk counted on millions of euros from the EU. And he got them

In his opinion, Belarus is carrying out the “Operation Lock”, which was developed in 2010-11 by the heads of the KGB and OSAM – an elite unit of the border forces. At that time, the transfer of migrants across the EU border was to force the European Union to provide Belarus with financial aid to seal the border. The plan was successful – the government in Minsk received tens of millions of euros for this purpose.

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BYPOL, an organization of former officers of the Belarusian services, operating in Warsaw, informed about the “Operation Lock”. According to her, the scale of this action is now much larger, and the transfer of people to EU borders is supported by a whole range of Belarusian services, including the military.

A group of refugees and officers of the Border Guard in Usnarz GórnyPAP / Artur Reszko

Lukashenka’s speech

As Gichan describes, the current operation began shortly after being forced to land at the airport in Minsk on May 23 this year. Ryanair aircraft on which the opposition blogger traveled Raman Pratasiewicz. The man was immediately arrested, and in response, the EU imposed additional sanctions on the Belarusian regime.

Shortly after this event, Lukashenka publicly announced that Belarus would not prevent people trying to enter the European Union. His speech was repeatedly broadcast on Iraqi public television – emphasizes the Belarusian journalist.

Raman Pratasewicz Artur Widak / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The buses of the Belarusian army transport people to the border

Iraqis could get to Belarus thanks to the increase in the number and capacity of connections between the Iraqi cities and Minsk. At the beginning of 2021, there was only one plane a week flying between Iraq and Belarus, and in May the number of connections started to grow rapidly.

The visitors from Iraq were served by the state-owned company Centrkurort, which was subordinate to Lukashenka, and cooperated with Iraqi travel agencies. After landing in Minsk, the Iraqis received tourist visas. A large part of them then went to the vicinity of the Lithuanian border and tried to cross it illegally. Some of them benefited from the help of smugglers, who paid from 1,000 to 1,500 zlotys. dollars for ensuring transport to Vilnius or Suwałki.

Barbed wire unfolded by the military is so far the only physical barrier separating Poland from BelarusPAP / Artur Reszko

In the illegal crossing of the border, the migrants were helped by the instructions in Arabic circulating on the Internet, as well as by the actions of the Belarusian services, emphasizes Gichan. The recordings of FRONTEX show Belarusian services escorting columns going to the border of migrants. Iraqis were also transported to the border by buses of the Belarusian army. The journalist also recalls recordings showing how Belarusian officials push refugees out of Belarus and block their possible return.

First Lithuania, then Poland and Latvia

Gichan describes that the stream of migrants was originally led by Belarus mainly on Lithuanian territory. After the government in Vilnius announced that Lithuania would turn back people trying to cross it illegally at the border and Lithuania took real action, Belarus redirected migrants to routes leading to the borders with Poland and Latvia – reports the journalist.

Forcing migrants towards the Polish border and preventing them from returning to Belarus is therefore not a “completely deliberate attack”, but rather a consequence of the effective blocking of the border with Lithuania, which was the first target of the Belarusian action, says Gichan.

The border road on the Polish-Belarusian border in KopczanyPAP / Artur Reszko

Main photo source: PAP / Artur Reszko

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