Evelina Gudzinskaitė, the head of Lithuania's Migration Department, has reported a decrease in the number of Belarusians arriving in Lithuania in recent months.

This decline is attributed to businesses shifting their focus and recruiting employees from other countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, considered lower risk.

Gudzinskaitė mentioned that Belarusians are dissuaded from coming to Lithuania, partly due to discouragement and partly due to intensified screening by the Migration Department in collaboration with the State Security Department (VSD).

As of the beginning of this month, there were 224,800 foreigners living in Lithuania, with approximately 62,500 being Belarusians.

The Migration Department and the VSD have enhanced their scrutiny of Belarusian nationals seeking or holding temporary residence permits in Lithuania for employment purposes. This heightened vigilance follows an incident where Alexander Matiyevich, a former Belarusian police major implicated in suppressing pro-democracy protests, obtained a temporary residence permit in Lithuania.

Recent statements from the VSD indicate that the majority of migrants from Belarus are economic migrants, with only a small fraction involved in opposition activities. However, the VSD has expressed concern about the potential for Belarusian intelligence services to exploit individuals sympathetic to the regime against Lithuania's interests.

In 2023, the VSD conducted 121,577 threat assessments of foreigners, identifying 1,415 individuals whose presence in Lithuania posed a security threat. Approximately 80 percent of these individuals are Belarusian citizens, many of whom have ties to the Lukashenko regime.

The VSD further detailed that around 60 percent of Belarusians deemed a security risk had previous employment with Belarusian state institutions, 30 percent served in the army, and up to 10 percent were associated with the military industry or other strategic sectors. Photo by Aidas U., Wikimedia commons.