And they don’t hesitate to ruin his life totally.

Nobody expects anything good from the Belarusian political system – there, it’s enough to merely displease a person in uniform to get at least 24 hours of detention, be subscribed to certain channels, and any attempts to resist will end with an increased prison term or murder in prison, as evidenced by the cases of a historian Vitold Ashurak or an artist Ales Pushkin.

Some time ago, Lithuania claimed to be a safe democratic country, which in 2020 clearly declared its desire to save repressed Belarusians from the wrath of a mad dictator Alexander Lukashenko. But then it changed its mind.

Vitali Dvarashyn is one of Belarusian conscientious objector to military service whom Lithuania decided to persecute and continues to hound, and it’s unclear how it will all end.

Born on August 12, 1969, Vitali Dvarashyn graduated from the Vasylkiv Aviation and Technical Military School in Ukraine in 1990. Initially, he served as an aviation mechanic in the army, but, disillusioned with military service, he decided to refuse to take up arms and resigned of his own volition on July 15, 1998. Since July 15, 1998, he has led a peaceful life, avoiding the military and any enforcement structures.

After leaving the army, unwilling to serve Lukashenko’s criminal regime, Vitali supported the Belarusian people’s struggle for liberation from dictatorial tyranny. He was an independent observer in the 2001 elections and signed a petition to the Human Rights Commission about the facts of falsification and non-admission of independent observers at polling stations in Vitebsk.

Since April 13, 2016, Vitali had a Lithuanian economic residence permit, which he regularly renewed while working as a driver in the town of Mažeikiai.

In 2020, in Belarus, Vitali also participated in protests against the criminal regime’s falsified elections. He engaged in polemics on social media with regime supporters and, together with a group of like-minded people, blocked the passage of prison trucks transporting unarmed demonstrators.

When the war in Ukraine began, Vitali feared being forcibly mobilized into the Belarusian army and sent to fight in Ukraine due to his past military service. He left for Lithuania as quickly as he could on March 8, 2022. At that time, a check of the documents of those liable for military service was underway in Belarus. A few days later, police arrived at his registered address in Vitebsk with a search and arrest warrant, informing his mother that a criminal case had been launched against Vitali in Baranavichy for calling Belarusian enforcers “murderers and executioners” on Facebook.

Since then, Vitali has not returned to Belarus, not visiting his family due to fears for his freedom and life, and the risk of forced conscription.

Videos and photos of his participation in the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on May 15, 2023, were published on the “Olga Karach” and “Our House” Telegram channels. This alone threatens him with up to 7 years in a Belarusian prison.

On March 16, 2023, Vitali’s residence permit was annulled solely based on his service in the Belarusian army and his education at a military school almost 30 years ago. He was also declared as “a threat of national security in Lithuania” and banned from entering the EU for 5 years. Vitali appealed this decision in Lithuanian court.

Due to the annulment of his residence permit, his employer had to dismiss him on the same day. Vitali was left without a job, without means of subsistence and at the same time it was impossible for him to return back to Belarus because his possible arrest and imprisonment.

On June 11, 2023, despite the appeal, Lithuanian migration and border service officers tried to forcibly deport Vitali to Belarus, which would mean automatic imprisonment for participating in protests and forced military conscription.

Vitali was taken to the border, where documents for his transfer to the Belarusian side were being prepared. He tried to apply for political asylum directly at the border, giving the corresponding application to the border guards. They took the application but later claimed he had given them nothing, agreeing to release him on the condition that he would not hide and would come to the Migration Department within a few days to apply for asylum.

Vitali was under great stress and very scared for his life and freedom, not understanding what he had done wrong to the Republic of Lithuania.

On June 15, 2023, he submitted documents for political asylum in Lithuania and was immediately placed in a refugee camp. He was placed in confinement in a refugee camp – in a closed room in which the door handle was only on the outside, Vitali himself could not leave this room on his own. There were bars on the windows, he was there alone.

The Lithuanian border guards wanted him to wait for the decision of the Lithuanian migration authorities in the refugee camp in confinement.

On June 27, 2023, a Lithuanian court ruled to return his residence permit and lift the EU entry ban, finding the Migration Department’s arguments that Vitali posed a “threat to national security” unconvincing. However, the Migration Department appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, which rejected the appeal on September 6, 2023.

On June 28, 2023, the court allowed Vitali to live outside the refugee camp and move freely within Lithuania while awaiting the decision. Vitali had the right to leave the refugees camp but had to check in at the refugee camp every 72 hours. This was difficult because the distance between Vilnius and the refugee camp is 50 kilometers, i.e. 100 kilometers in both directions. Of course, the migration department did not pay for petrol for the trips.

Thus, Vitali spent 13 days in solitary confinement in the refugee camp.

On July 4, 2023, Vitaly’s lawyer turned to the Trial Chamber with a request to overturn the Decision n. 23S1199 of the Migration Department of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania about provision of accommodation dated June 16, 2023, which would restrict him to choose a place of accommodation only in the refugees camp.

On July 10, the Trial Chambers received a confirmation to the court’s request that the citizen of the Republic of Belarus, Vitali Dvarashyn, was at the Foreigners’ Registration Centre of the State Border Guard Service under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania. By the decision of the District Court of Vilnius Region, Švenčionys chamber, the request was accepted for consideration, and the Defendant, which is the Migration Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, was given 14 days to submit their statement of defence.

However, the Defendant – the Migration Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania – failed to submit a statement of defence in the term of 14 days, prescribed by the court, and did not inform the court about the reasons of that. In the result, for non-compliance with the demand of the court, the migration authority was imposed a fine on in the amount of 100 Eur.

On August 24, 2023, Vitali Dvarashyn, won the second trial against the Migration Department of the Republic of Lithuania regarding the conditions of his stay. The court strongly recommended that the Migration Department reconsider its decision about placing Vitali to the refugee camp in Pabradė and advised Vitali to await the decision at his place of residence.

Soon, Vitali Dvarashyn was released from the camp for migrants. Besides that, he does not have to check in in the migration camp every three days anymore, as he was supposed to do earlier.

On November 20, 2023, after eight months of unjustified annulment of his residence permit, he was able to find a job in a Lithuanian trucking company using his asylum seeker’s certificate. (in Lithuania a refugee applicant cannot work for the first 6 months).

On January 13, 2024, the Lithuanian Migration Department decided to reject Vitali’s asylum application, claiming he was not in danger in Belarus. The Department also requested the Department of State Security (DSS) to reconsider whether Vitali posed a security threat. On January 2, 2024, the DSS again responded that Vitali’s presence in Lithuania was indeed a security threat for Lithuania despite the fact that the court has already cancelled the decision to recognize Vitali as a threat to Lithuania’s national security.

Vitali appealed the Lithuanian Migration Department’s decision.

On February 15, 2024, his economic residence permit expired. An attempt to renew it on September 19, 2023 was rejected because he was an asylum seeker. In April 2024, his employer submitted another request for an economic residence permit and they waited for a response.

On March 12, 2024, an appeal against the Migration Department’s decision was heard. On March 26, 2024, the court upheld the decision to deny his political asylum. Vitali appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, which rejected his appeal on May 29, 2024.

On June 5, 2024, the Migration Department persistently invited Vitali to come with his passport to close his asylum case, which usually does not require the applicant’s presence. Suspecting a trap, Vitali refused. Migration officers then tried to schedule an early morning meeting (on Monday 6 a.m.), which he also refused. They called again with a new pretext, but Vitali suspected they intended to deport him.

It also turned out that Vitali’s employer had made an error when applying for his residence permit several months ago, resulting in Vitali’s documents not being processed correctly. Re-submitting the documents is now impossible, because after the refusal of political asylum, Vitali became an illegal immigrant (his residence permit expired on February 15, 2024, and the refusal of asylum came into effect on May 29, 2024). Consequently, Vitali was fired from his job. Most likely, the owner of the company was pressurized, because after talking to the Migration Department she was frightened and flatly refused to try to draw up work documents for Vitali again.

On June 13, 2024, Vitali was at home when he saw migration officers approaching the house. He jumped out of the window and hid. The migration officers first entered the house and talked to the landlady for a long time. Then, they went outside and waited for Vitali for another 5 hours. Most likely, the landlady was pressured, as she told Vitali that she was evicting him from the house that day.

At the moment, Vitali, who has lost both his job and housing, is in hiding. He is in an extremely difficult psychological state, feeling very frustrated and exhausted by the unjust actions of the Department of State Security, the Department of Migration, and the Border Guard Service and the Department of State Security of Lithuania.