Ivan Strashkevich, a Belarusian who previously left the Belarusian army to distance himself from military structures, will be staying in Lithuania for another month. However, just like the previous month, he will spend it in detention at the refugee camp in Pabradė. It’s worth noting that his laptop and phone were confiscated upon arrival, and he is only given access to a phone for 30 minutes a day. He is confined to a room with barred windows, the door is locked, and Ivan lacks the means to file an appeal or maintain regular contact with the outside world due to the absence of a laptop or phone.

Ivan Strashkevich’s detention has been extended for a month as his legal status remains uncertain. The migration authorities in Lithuania are awaiting a response from Poland regarding Ivan’s potential acceptance. If Poland grants approval, Ivan will be released; otherwise, his application for asylum in Lithuania will be considered. This means that during this entire period until a decision is made, he will continue to be held in confinement at the camp.

This story is incredibly unjust for multiple reasons. Firstly, Ivan Straskevich is an individual who made significant efforts to leave the Belarusian army. He sacrificed his career because he refused to commit violence against own people.

Secondly, Ivan holds a valid residency permit in Poland, which has not been revoked. Thirdly, he has every right not only to reside in Lithuania but also to live a normal life there and even obtain citizenship. The reason being that Ivan’s mother is Lithuanian, born and raised in Lithuania. Ivan’s decision to move to Lithuania is deeply rooted in his connection to his mother’s homeland.

Despite all of this, on June 5, 2023, the migration authorities of Lithuania refused to extend his work visa based on his previous military service, disregarding his active anti-war and anti-regime activities. They also imposed 60-month entry ban on Ivan, prohibiting him from entering the European Union and Lithuania.

On June 6, 2023, Ivan applied for political asylum and was scheduled for an interview on June 14, 2023. However, just five hours after the interview, on June 14, 2023, he was detained by immigration authorities and forcefully transferred to a refugee camp, where on June 16, the court decided to detain him for one month. And now, this detention has been extended.

This could have been just one individual’s story. However, regrettably, it reflects like a mirror the deteriorating attitude of the Lithuanian authorities towards Belarusians. What’s concerning is the failure to distinguish between those who have fought against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and those who accept and support it. Such an approach from the official Vilnius represents a significant and pressing issue.

Our House