Lithuania Rejects Granting Belarusian Opposition Right to Asylum

Lithuania Rejects Granting Belarusian Opposition Right to Asylum

Belarusian Opposition Leader Denied Asylum by Lithuania

Olga Karash, who manages a human rights center in Vilnius, announced on Friday that Lithuanian authorities have rejected her request for asylum. Karash stated that she had applied for asylum in Lithuania, but the immigration administration refused her request after Vilnius intelligence concluded that she could pose a threat to national security.

Karash stated, "I received the decision this morning at 8 a.m." She further added, "The State Security Department said that my actions could pose a threat to Lithuania's national security. This is nonsense."

Both the migration department and the State Security Department declined to comment on the matter when questioned by Agence France-Presse.

Despite her asylum request being denied, it appears unlikely that Karash will be deported from Lithuania as her residence permit remains valid. Karash leads the non-governmental organization "Nakh Dom" (Our Home), based in Lithuania. The organization provides humanitarian assistance to Belarusians in both Lithuania and Belarus and monitors human rights conditions in Belarus, which is governed by an authoritarian regime led by Alexander Lukashenko.

In 2021, Belarusian intelligence labeled Karash as a "terrorist," and last year, Minsk included the "Nakh Dom" organization on its list of "extremist" entities. Karash explained that she applied for asylum to avoid potential arrest while traveling abroad. She emphasized that if she were to visit another country and Lukashenko put her on an Interpol list, she could be easily detained.

Having obtained consecutive residence permits in Lithuania since 2014, she officially established this country as her permanent residence in 2020. Karash confirmed to Agence France-Presse that she will appeal the decision of the migration department in Lithuanian courts and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary