News2023.03.09 16:16

Belarus’ KGB may have agents among diaspora in Lithuania – intelligence

Agents recruited by Belarusian security may be among members of Belarusian opposition in Lithuania, according to Lithuania’s intelligence.

“There’s a high probability there are actively recruited KGB agents among them [Belarusian opposition members] and they provide information to the Belarusian special services,” Darius Jauniškis, chief of the State Security Department (VSD), told reporters on Thursday, adding that this poses a serious risk to the Belarusian opposition itself.

According to him, recruited agents enter Lithuania after illegally crossing the border and pretending to be opposition representatives.

“We might take measures against this,” the VSD chief said.

Earlier in the day, the VSD and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defence presented their 2023 National Threat Assessment report and warned that Belarusian services are likely to step up the use of the growing Belarusian diaspora in Lithuania to collect intelligence information.

According to Lithuania’s intelligence, propaganda and disinformation campaigns orchestrated by the Minsk government are likely to increase the Belarusian diaspora’s disillusion with the opposition movement. Belarusian intelligence services will exploit disappointed Belarusians for gathering intelligence and influence operations within their diaspora in Lithuania.

After the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, tens of thousands of Belarusian citizens arrived in Lithuania.

The KGB infiltrates its agents among fleeing Belarusians. In Lithuania, they collect intelligence and in case of their return to Belarus, the regime’s propaganda exploits these individuals in smear campaigns against Lithuania.

As an example, the report provides the case of Andrey Abramenko, a former Belarusian OMON officer, prosecuted for his protest activity in 2020. In 2021, Abramenko crossed into Lithuania and applied for asylum. After a few months, Abramenko returned to Belarus and became one of the main characters in a Belarusian propaganda movie defaming Lithuania.

It is highly likely that Abramenko was cooperating with the KGB, the intelligence report said.

Lithuania’s intelligence services also claim that many members of the Belarusian diaspora in Lithuania keep receiving messages through Telegram social network accounts, inviting them to return to Belarus.

They say it is part of Minsk’s “Road Home” initiative, which has been running since 2021 and allows expatriate Belarusians to return safely to the country in exchange for spying.

“The regime is forcing some Belarusian citizens to tell their escape and return stories on the country’s TV channels,” the threat assessment report reads.

It also states that irregular migrant flows, orchestrated by the Belarusian government, will continue in the medium term, adding that there might be attempts by extremist individuals to enter Lithuania.

Such cases have already been identified, the services said.

LRT has been certified according to the Journalism Trust Initiative Programme

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