Two Belarusian passports are displayed in Tallinn, Estonia, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Belarus has stopped renewing passports at its embassies abroad, and hundreds of thousands of Belarusians who have fled President Alexander Lukashenko’s repressive regime cannot update their travel documents without returning home and risking possible arrest.
Human Rights Watch has condemned what it called the “draconian” decision, labeling it retaliation against the regime’s “critics-in-exile” by putting them at risk of “politically motivated prosecution if they have to return to Belarus to process their documents.”
Anitta Hipper, a spokesperson for home affairs for the European Commission, said those who can’t get a passport from their country of origin should seek support from the one where they reside. She added the EC welcomed Lithuania’s temporary solution and said it was monitoring the overall situation. headtopics.com
Analysts believe Lukashenko wants to neutralize a significant part of the opposition in the country of 9.5 million ahead of parliamentary elections in 2024 and a presidential election in 2025. “Those who escaped have long been working for other countries — for Poland, Lithuania, the United States — so get passports from these countries and stay there,” he told Belarusian state television.
Valery Kavaleuski, the foreign affairs representative of Tsikhanouskaya’s government in exile — the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus — said at least 62,000 Belarusians “are in dire need of a new passport.” headtopics.com
“This will become not only a symbol, but also a practical tool that will unite the huge community of Belarusians around the world,” Kavaleuski said.