Aleh Barshcheuski, an independent journalist and editor, is currently staying illegally in Lithuania because Lithuania has denied him political asylum on absurd grounds and according to the evidence fabricated by the Lithuanian Department of Migration, without being allowed to legalise in any other way.

  • Aleh Barshcheuski faces up to seven years of imprisonment in Belarus for his work in independent Belarusian media and CSOs, which are currently considered “extremist” in Belarus.
  • Torture is a common practice of law enforcement agencies in Belarus, as evidenced by numerous human rights organisations, such as Human Rights Watch.
  • Hundreds of Belarusians returning home are detained right at the border, many are arrested literally for reposting news from media outlets recognised as “extremist” in Belarus – in those media outlets where independent journalist Aleh Barshcheuski worked or is working now.
  • As a forced illegal immigrant, Aleh Barshcheuski is denied access to medical care, for example, Lithuania has taken away the ventilator he needs for his lungs.
  • He is also denied access to his bank account because he is not legalised in Lithuania.
  • Aleh Barshcheuski is currently facing deportation to Belarus.

Information about Aleh Barshcheuski:

  1. He is the father of two minor children who were granted political asylum in Lithuania because in Belarus the Belarusan regime persecuted his children and tried to remove them from their family for the human rights activities of their mother, Olga Karach.
  2. He is a member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, which is recognised as an extremist organisation in Belarus.
  3. He was the editor of the “Vitebsk Courier” newspaper, which is now recognised as an extremist media outlet in Belarus.
  4. He currently works as an editor of the website “nash-dom.info“, which is linked to the organisation “Our House” (the organisation is recognised as extremist in Belarus).
  5. The site nash-dom.info is recognized as an extremist media resource by the Lukashenka regime.
  6. Aleh is the husband of human rights defender Volha Karach, who was recognised as a “terrorist” by the Belarusian KGB. The Belarusian regime resorts to hostage-taking of relatives of well-known human rights defenders, activists and journalists (link provided).
  7. Aleh is also a consistent and convinced conscientious objector, he did not serve in the Belarusian army as a matter of principle, but survived attempts to be mobilised for political reasons in 2001.

Chronicle and sequence of events:

On September 1, 2022, journalist Aleh Barshcheuski applied for political asylum in Lithuania.

On December 15, 2022, Aleh Barshcheuski’s parents were found dead in their flat in Vitebsk, Belarus – both of them at once. They did not suffer from any chronic fatal diseases. The mother was 69 and the father was 72, the simultaneous death of such different people is highly suspicious and not caused by old age. The Vitebsk Investigative Committee refused to investigate their untimely deaths, but several factors point to murder. Aleh Barshcheuski’s father, Vadzim Barshcheuski, headed the Vitsebsk branch of the Belarusan Association of Journalists for several years and also worked as a journalist for Radio Liberty, recognised as “extremist” in Belarus. Mother worked as a literary editor of the “extremist” media “Vitebsk Courier” newspaper before and during her retirement. All the money disappeared from the pensioners’ account on the eve of their death. The doctor on that day refused to sign documents for the police about natural death without investigation.

On October 9, 2023, despite clear threats of persecution, the Migration Department refused political asylum to journalist Aleh Barshcheuski on absurd grounds, while falsifying evidence and misleading a Lithuanian court.

On March 20, 2024, the Supreme Court of Lithuania upheld the decision to deny political asylum to Aleh Barshcheuski.

On March 25, 2024, the Lithuanian Migration Department attempted to initiate deportation proceedings to Belarus, as evidenced by the letter from the Migration Department that Aleh Barshcheuski received. The Lithuanian Migration Department sent Aleh an official letter inviting him to leave Lithuania voluntarily, If he refused, the Migration Department threatened to initiate the process of his forced deportation to Belarus, as the refusal of political asylum left Aleh with no legal grounds to stay in Lithuania.

On March 29, 2024, Aleh Barshcheuski wrote an official refusal to return to Belarus voluntarily, as he faces torture and imprisonment in Belarus – both for his journalistic activities and for being the husband of well-known human rights activist Olga Karach.

On March 29, 2024, the Lithuanian Migration Department accepted Aleh Barshcheuski’s residence permit documents. However, directly at the Migration Department, an administrative protocol was drawn up against Aleh for illegal stay in Lithuania, which Aleh Barshcheuski then appealed against in court.

On March 31, 2024, the Lithuanian news service BNS published a note on the situation with comments from the director of the Migration Department, Evelina Gudzinskaite, and Barshcheuski’s lawyer, Rytis Satkauskas.

“Formally, he was supposed to leave Lithuania, he was told to do it in a standardised way. But he reacted inadequately, made a fuss, refused to co-operate with the Migration Department and refused to explain why he could not leave Lithuania, – Evelina Gudzinskaite, Director of the Migration Department, said.  But the situation with Belarusan citizens is non-standard. (…) The Department assesses whether it is safe to expel a person from Lithuania. In this case, we have not even reached a decision on expulsion (…) and the Migration Department currently has no plans to expel the person from Lithuania.”

Aleh Barshcheuski was not given his Belarusian passport for almost a week at the Department of Migration. Aleh sent letters to the department on March 26, 2024 demanding to return the passport (the passport was returned only on Tuesday, April 2).

Rytis Satkauskas, Barshcheuski’s lawyer, also stated that the Migration Service twice (during personal appeals on March 25, 2024 at 14.00 and March 26, 2024 at 9.00) refused to return Barshcheuski’s passport, “without justifying it in any way”:

“But they also said that maybe if the foreigner voluntarily left for his country, then maybe they would return the passport.”

It should be noted that the Lithuanian Department of Migration did not offer any cooperation to the journalist Aleh Barshcheuski in any way or manner whatsoever.

On June 13, 2024, Aleh Barshcheuski won the Lithuanian court of first instance, which cancelled the administrative protocol drawn up by the migration authorities for the journalist’s illegal presence in Lithuania. At the trial it turned out that the Lithuanian Migration Department had seriously violated the procedure for drawing up the administrative protocol, and that Aleh Barshcheuski had made every effort to legalise in Lithuania, and his illegal status at the moment was forced solely due to the fault of the Lithuanian Migration Department. It also turned out that the Lithuanian Department of Migration seriously violated the procedure for cancelling the card of asylum seeker Aleh Barshcheuski.

And the most interesting thing: at the trial it turned out that the administrative report for the illegal stay of Aleh Barshcheuski in Lithuania was drawn up by migration officials on the personal order of the head of the Lithuanian Migration Department, Evelina Gudzinskaite, and not at their will or as required by law.

On June 21, 2024 (after three months of “consideration”), the Lithuanian Migration Department sent an official message that the consideration of Aleh ‘s residence permit was suspended indefinitely.

The reasons for refusing political asylum to Aleh Barshcheuski are as follows:

  1. The Migration Department believes that Aleh Barshcheuski “did not support opposition activist Sviatlana Tihanovskaia sincerely and substantially enough”, which means that he cannot receive political asylum in Lithuania.

Such refusal is absurd and illegal, because political asylum is granted due to the threat of persecution of a person in his/her home country, not because of loyalty to a certain politician, especially, for Lithuania, a foreign politician.

  1. The Migration Department claims that Aleh Barshcheuski and Olga Karach visited Belarus twice in 2021.

However, this justification of the refusal is unreliable, because neither Aleh Barshcheuski nor Olga Karach left Lithuania for Belarus after March 15, 2020, which can be easily proved by the absence of stamps in their passports after that date. The Migration Service deliberately misled the court by knowingly providing false information.

  1. The Migration Department and then the court considered that Aleh Barshcheuski had already obtained a residence permit in Lithuania and therefore did not need political asylum.

This reason is unreliable because Aleh did not have a valid residence permit in Lithuania and his only legal status in Lithuania at that time was that of a political asylum seeker. Migration authorities deliberately misled the court by knowingly providing false information.

Moreover, the Lithuanian authorities deliberately created the whole situation described above: in August 2023, well before the refusal of asylum, he tried to extend his residence permit on the basis of the residence in Lithuania of his two minor children, who have refugee status. However, Barshcheuski was refused an extension of his residence permit by the Lithuanian Department of Migration.

Barshcheuski’s lawyer Rytis Satkauskas also confirmed this for the Lithuanian media:

“The answer was that we will not renew the family residence permit on the basis of family because you are an asylum seeker.”

As of today, Aleh Barshcheuski’s life and health are under threat in Lithuania, and there are high risks of his deportation to Belarus – to a Belarusian prison.