Belarus banned its Citizens from Renewing Passports abroadWorld | September 6, 2023, Wednesday // 09:04| views
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko yesterday banned citizens from renewing their passports while abroad, which could force those who fled the country, amid a growing crackdown, to return to keep their travel documents.
An estimated 200,000-300,000 Belarusians have left the country in the past three years, since mass protests against elections that returned President Lukashenko to office led to a brutal crackdown on political opposition.
Lukashenko's decree states that a Belarusian passport can only be renewed if the holder was a registered resident before leaving the country.
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania after running against Lukashenko in the 2020 election, warned her countrymen that “even if your passport expires, you should not return to your homeland because you risk becoming a target of persecution”.
Tsikhanouskaya said that Poland and Lithuania issue so-called "foreigners' passports" to Belarusians that allow them to stay in those countries.
The Belarusian human rights group “Viasna” estimates that more than 1,500 people are currently behind bars in Belarus as political prisoners. Journalists and activists in Belarus have faced widespread repression since the August 2020 presidential vote, after which Lukashenko began a sixth presidential term.
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