2021.10.21 09:37

Lithuanian media not allowed to record pushbacks 'for security, tactical reasons'

BNS2021.10.21 09:37

The media are not allowed to freely record the pushbacks of irregular migrants for security and tactical reasons, Rustamas Liubajevas, the commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (VSAT), said on Wednesday.

"For the time being, we would not really like actions of denying entry to be recorded," Liubajevas told reporters when asked why journalists are not allowed to observe the pushbacks. "This is due to two main aspects: security and [...] tactical issues".

The security aspect is related to threats received by the border guards, according to the commander.

"Our officers involved in this activity may receive threats. There have been such cases. Many of us receive threats. I personally have received quite a few," he said.

Read more: RSF denounces restrictions on press freedom in Lithuania and Poland

"Also, our officers perform actions that are of great importance in terms of our tactics, and we would certainly not want that information to be very easily accessible to Belarus' special services," Liubajevas said.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. A similar number of people have been turned away since August 2 when Lithuania introduced a policy of pushing the migrants back to Belarus.

Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland

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