Belarus tried to force dissidents abroad to come home

RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 27 Sep 2023 by Alex Teddy

On September 14 Minsk announced that its passport can only be renewed in Belarus. Belarusians abroad were previously able to renew their passports at the embassy. Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya said this is an attempt to make dissidents return to the country, where they will be jailed. It is estimated that there are 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus. There are 3.5 million Belarusians abroad, and 9 million people in Belarus.  Belarus sometimes takes away its people's citizenship when they are deemed to be extremists. Lithuania has given foreign passports to Belarusians as a temporary solution. Not all EU countries will recognize this ID. Lithuania has a large Belarusian minority because it borders the country. The European Union is unlikely to agree on what to do. Hungary might veto the proposal. The Hungarian Foreign Minister even visited Belarus in 2023.  More than a million people left Belarus since the disputed election of 2020. Most of them are highly educated. Belarus can ill afford to lose such people. Belarus might not let them leave if they come home. Belarus's economy faces serious difficulties because Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have all restricted imports from Belarus. 

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