Belarus’ authoritarian president on Tuesday banned citizens from renewing their passports while staying abroad, which could force those who fled the country amid growing repression to return to maintain their travel documents.
An estimated 200-300,000 Belarusians have left the country in the last three years since massive protests against an election that returned President Alexander Lukashenko to office led to a harsh crackdown on the political opposition.
The election results were widely regarded as manipulated.
OVER 2,000 RUSSIAN TROOPS TAKE PART IN MILITARY EXERCISES IN BELARUS NEAR BORDERS OF NATO COUNTRIES
Lukashenko’s decree stated that a Belarusian passport can only be renewed where the holder was a registered resident before leaving the country.
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania after challenging Lukashenko in the 2020 election, warned Belarusians, saying, “even if your passport expires, you should not return to your home country if you risk persecution.”
EX-MEMBER OF BELARUS SECURITY FORCES TO FACE TRIAL IN SWITZERLAND FOR DISAPPEARANCES OF POLITICAL OPPONENTS
Tsikhanouskaya told The Associated Press that Poland and Lithuania have issued so-called “foreigner passports” to Belarusians that allow them to stay in those countries.
The Belarusian human rights group Viasna says more than 1,500 people are currently behind bars as political prisoners.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Journalists and activists in Belarus have faced large-scale repression since the August 2020 vote that handed a sixth term to Lukashenko.
(This article is generated through the syndicated feed sources, Financetin neither support nor own any part of this article)