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Belarus no longer issues passports to exiles

Belarus no longer issues passports to exiles

(Moscow) – Belarus, where the opposition was pushed into exile due to repression, now refuses to issue passports to its citizens abroad, exiled opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said on Tuesday, a day after the publication of a decree to that effect signed by Alexander Lukashenko.

“Today, the Lukashenko regime deprived Belarusians abroad of the possibility of obtaining new passports from diplomatic missions,” she said on X (formerly Twitter).

“We are working with the host countries to resolve the situation and prepare the new Belarusian passport. If the state abandons its duty of care for its citizens, we will not do it!”, she added.

Before I address directly to Belarusian citizens living abroad, on Telegram: “I ask you not to panic and not to commit rash acts. Even if your passport has expired, you should not return to your country of origin if you risk being persecuted there.

She adds: “There is no document in the world that deserves human freedom.”

Under a decree signed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday, Belarusian citizens will only be able to obtain or renew a passport at a “consular service attached to the last registered place of residence” in Belarus.

Belarusians living abroad to date can renew their passports at the Belarusian consulate in the country in which they reside.

Repression has been afoot in Belarus since the 2020 presidential election was deemed rigged and won by Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and a loyal ally of Vladimir Putin in Russia.

The vote led to the outbreak of protest demonstrations on an unprecedented scale, which were forcefully suppressed.

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Since then, hundreds of activists, journalists, rights defenders and ordinary citizens have been sentenced to long prison terms or forced to live in exile.

According to the human rights NGO Viasna, Belarus currently has approximately 1,500 political prisoners and thousands of exiles.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a 40-year-old refugee in Lithuania, became a leading opposition figure in Belarus during the disputed presidential election. At the beginning of last March, the court sentenced her in absentia to 15 years in prison.