The Forum of Democratic Forces of Belarus, as a platform that promotes expression of every opinion by all political and civil initiatives with no exception, expresses bewilderment with the fact of deportation of Belarusian citizens living in Lithuania and of accusing those citizens of being a threat to the national security of Lithuania.

We note with bitterness how horrible and hopeless the fate of our compatriots becomes who find themselves under a risk of deportation to Belarus, where they will encounter prison, torture or death penalty.

We are very grateful to the government of Lithuania for the help they provided Belarusians in 2020 and for the help and support Lithuania has been giving Belarusians since then. That is why we express bewilderment about the criteria according to which some activists of the protests 2020 get a right to stay in Lithuania and others are announced a threat to the national security of Lithuania.

Belarusian activists today are living in Lithuania not because of their own volition. They are mainly victims of the persecution by the regime, they are people who are in Lithuania for the reason of conscientious objection.

Lithuanian government invited tens of thousands of Belarusians under its protection, and that is why Belarusians have chosen Lithuania as a place of shelter and salvation.

We believe that all Belarusians, especially those who openly oppose the regime of Lukashenka, have a right to protection in the territory of the countries that declare their solidarity with the Belarusian people.

Since the beginning of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, the Belarusian regime is doing their best to stay in power by dancing attendance on Putin. We affirm that the Belarusian people is against this criminal war. Belarusian activists and ordinary citizens are against the Russian aggression, against lawlessness and injustice.

The war against Ukraine affects the minds of politicians in the whole world. We note with bitterness that persecution of Belarusians gives political preferences to some politicians, including the ones in Lithuania. However, the ones who suffer from that are ordinary citizens tossed into the meat grinder of repression, persecution, and facing the problems of emigration. Currently, we know of more than 1000 cases when an issue or extension of a residence permit was denied to a Belarusian.

Leaders of the democratic movement of Belarus are subject to persecution. In 2011, a famous human rights defender, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ales Bialiatski was arrested and sentenced for a many-years imprisonment in Belarus on the grounds of information that Lithuania had transferred to the regime of Lukashenka. In 2019, the former candidate for presidency, Yaraslau Ramanchuk, a famous economist, was put on the list of persons posing a threat to Lithuania and could not visit the European Union due to that.

In the resent weeks, a serious information attack has been launched on the mass media against the head of the organization Our House, Olga Karach, and the politician Zianon Pazniak, which deepens our concern.

Belarusian political environment is not homogeneous: there are arguments inside the democratic movement, there are contradictions emerging, but it should not give political opponents any grounds to destroy the unwanted competitors with the help of the Lithuanian security services.

We call on the Lithuanian government to support the Belarusian democratic forces in all their diversity and not to follow xenophobic sentiments.

We call on the Lithuanian government to publicly disclose the facts on the basis of which decisions are made to announce certain citizens of Belarus a threat to the national security of Lithuania.

We call for justice, democracy, rule of law and reason.

The Forum of Democratic Forces of Belarus

August 24, 2023