Fact Check: Belarus Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's Meetings With Lithuanian Politicians Did NOT Lead To Restrictive Measures For Belarusians

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  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Belarus Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's Meetings With Lithuanian Politicians Did NOT Lead To Restrictive Measures For Belarusians Wrong Reason

Did the meetings of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled Belarusian opposition leader, with Lithuanian politicians lead to restrictive measures against Belarusians? Did her meeting with the minister of interior affairs of Lithuania, Agnė Bilotaitė, result in requests for residency permits for Belarusians being suspended, and did her meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė result in Lithuania planning to more strictly control the entry of Belarusians into Lithuania? Did the Lithuanian president ignore Tikhanovskaya's request to ease the restrictive measures for Belarusians, despite Tikhanovskaya's agreement with Šimonytė on easing these measures? No, that's not true: Lead Stories found no evidence to support these claims. The Lithuanian Parliament passed a law imposing restrictions on Russians and Belarusians in response to the military aggression in Ukraine and to protect the interests of Lithuania's national security and foreign policy, not due to Tikhanovskaya's meetings with Lithuanian politicians. And applications for residency permits from Belarusian citizens will continue to be accepted in Lithuania.

The following claims appeared in a video on TikTok account by @sotnik_tiktok on October 27, 2023 (archived here):

The text overlay on the video (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff) said:

The President of Lithuania ignored Tikhanovskaya's pleas. Lithuania de facto has unified 4 out of 7 restrictive measures for Belarusians, despite the agreement with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė to ease these measures. Nothing will help her save her own skin anymore.

Below is how the post appeared on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-11-07 at 10.45.14.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Nov 7 11:50:12 2023 UTC)

The following claims appeared in a video on TikTok by the account @usytikhanovskoy on October 27, 2023 (archived here):

The text overlay on the video (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff) says:

S. Tikhanovskaya met with the Minister of Interior Affairs of Lithuania, Agnė Bilotaitė. They discussed the alignment of national security interests and obligations regarding the reception of Belarusian citizens. As a result of the meeting, the Seimas [Lithuanian parliament] adopted a law on various restrictions for Belarusians. (For example, suspension of consideration of applications for residence permits). S. Tikhanovskaya met with the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Ingrida Simonyte. They discussed the easing of conditions for the legalization of Belarusians in Lithuania, the opening of the border for Belarusians, and the preservation of passenger traffic. The result of the meeting: Lithuania plans to apply stricter control over the entry of Belarusians into Lithuania.

Below is how the post appeared on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-11-07 at 11.17.51.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Nov 7 12:50:11 2023 UTC)

The Lithuanian parliament passed the law on Restrictive Measures in Response to Military Aggression against Ukraine, imposing lighter sanctions on Belarusians than on Russian citizens on April 4, 2023. Four sanctions have been applied temporarily to both Russian and Belarusian citizens, and another three to Russian citizens only. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda vetoed the law and proposed refining it and equalizing the restrictions applied to Russians and Belarusians. On April 20, 2023, the Lithuanian Parliament rejected his veto and passed the law. The final law, introduced from May 3, 2023, to May 3, 2024, restricts the issuance of Lithuanian visas and e-resident status to Russian and Belarusian citizens, and bans them from bringing Ukrainian currency into Lithuania. It will be harder for Russian citizens to enter Lithuania and buy real estate, and their applications for residence permits in Lithuania have been temporarily suspended. Applications for residency permits from citizens of Belarus will continue to be accepted.

Neither Lithuanian officials nor other credible sources have reported that the restrictions imposed on Belarusians were a result of meetings between Tikhanovskaya and Lithuanian politicians. No such information was found on the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry's official website, or Tikhanovskaya's Twitter page, official website or social media accounts. Lead Stories contacted the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry for a comment and will update this article if there is a response. A search for the phrase "Tikhanovskaya's meetings with Lithuanian politicians resulted in restrictions imposed on Belarusians" (archived here) conducted on November 7, 2023, using the Google News index of thousands of credible news sites, did not reveal any factual reports on this claim.

Additionally, no credible evidence exists that there was an official agreement between Tikhanovskaya and Šimonytė on easing the restrictive measures for Belarusians. A search for the phrase "Tikhanovskaya's agreement with Prime Minister of Lithuania on easing restrictive measures for Belarussians" (archived here) conducted on November 8, 2023, using the Google News index of thousands of credible news sites, did not reveal any factual reports on this claim.

On October 23, 2023, Tikhanovskaya met with Šimonytė and they discussed simplifying the legalization of residence for Belarusians in Lithuania.

On April 5, 2023, Tikhanovskaya met with Bilotaitė and thanked her for accepting Belarusians' proposals for amendments to the draft law on restrictive measures in view of military aggression against Ukraine.

On September 11, 2023, after Belarus' authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko issued a decree banning Belarusian citizens living abroad from renewing their passports, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry said Lithuania would issue special passports to Belarus citizens who are staying there legally but do not have a passport or a corresponding travel document.

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