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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Lithuania Revokes Russian Residency Permits over “Disloyal Views”

Lithuania has recently taken measures regarding Russian residents in the country amidst security concerns. Over 100 Russians have had their residency permits revoked, with 38 cases in 2022 and an additional 97 this year, making a total of 135 since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the restrictions, there has been a doubling in the number of Russians applying for residency permits in Lithuania, reaching nearly 4,000 in 2022. The reasons for revoking residency permits can range from committing serious crimes to posing a threat to state security or society.

In a specific case, Russian citizen Vladimir Vodo, self-identified as a “journalist,” was expelled by the Lithuanian State Security Department (VSD) due to security risks.

The VSD highlighted Vodo’s disloyal views towards Lithuania, promotion of pro-Russian propaganda on social media, and connections with Russian and Belarusian intelligence services. However, the authenticity of Vodo’s claim to be a freelance journalist remains unverified by Euronews.

Lithuania finds itself in a delicate situation, aiming to support opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko while balancing security concerns associated with allowing citizens from these countries to enter and exit Lithuania.

As a response to security risks, touristic visits from Russians were banned last year, in line with measures implemented across various parts of Europe.

In an effort to gather information, Lithuania’s Migration Department has sent surveys to Russian citizens residing in the country, addressing topics such as the rightful ownership of Crimea and their perspectives on the ongoing war.

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Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, was seized by Russia in 2014, following the removal of Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych by Ukrainians. The ownership of Crimea has historically been a matter of contention, changing hands over the course of centuries.

Certain Russian residents in Lithuania have reported facing hostility due to their government’s invasion of Ukraine. Despite protesting against the war in their hometowns, individuals have experienced abuse and discrimination while residing in Lithuania.

In contrast, support for Ukraine remains high among Lithuanians, influenced by their history of occupation, exploitation, and Russification during the Soviet era. However, some ambivalence exists within certain segments of the population. The situation reflects the ongoing tensions and complexities in the region.

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