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Lithuanian Interior Minister asks Migration Department to reconsider Belarusian soldier's asylum request

Jaunesniojo seržanto Stepano Zacharčenkos byla
Luko Balandžio nuotr. / Stepan Zakharchenko
Šaltinis: BNS

With only one day left until a court ruling, Lithuanian Minister of the Interior Artūras Melianas has announced he asked the Migration Department to reconsider an asylum application of Stepan Zakharchenko, a soldier who deserted from the Belarusian army last year.

"The court will issue a ruling in this case but I have asked the Migration Department to once again consider all circumstances," Melianas was quoted as saying in a statement.

Vilnius Regional Administrative Court is set to decide on Friday whether to uphold Zakharchenko's appeal against the Migration Department's decision not to grant him asylum and temporary protection.

Melianas said the Migration Departmenr should take "the human factor" into consideration as well as "potential political imlications arising from deserting the neighboring country and the fear to return for obvious reasons."

The minister believes consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are needed to resolve this issue in order to avoid repetition of the mistake when the Ministry of Justice handed over bank data of human rights activist Ales Belyatsky to the Belarusian regime.

Vilnius Regional Administrative Court heard Zakharchenko's case in early October. The Belarusian claims he refused to sign documents on the use of violence against civilians and deserted from the Belarusian army. He is asking the court to order the Migration Department to reconsider his asylum application.

The Migration Department says it made a justified and legitimate decision in the Belarusian citizen's case, and that Zakharchenko is not facing danger in his country of origin.

Prosecutor General's Office has received several legal assistance requests regarding Zakharchenko from Belarus but does not comment on them.

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