No safe haven for Ukraine separatists in Lithuania

Eduard Akopov, a Ukrainian national married to a Lithuanian woman, recently took part in separatist operations in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, after which he came back to Lithuania where he had a permit to reside.

Mr. Akopov is married to a Lithuanian citizen, so last year the Lithuanian Migration Department issued him a permanent residency permit. Mr. Akopov had also started a business in Lithuania. However, Mr. Akopov was asked out of the country about two weeks ago.

Vytautas Makauskas, a representative of the State Security Department, said that “the department has found out that the said individual – Akopov – formed separatist groups in Donetsk during the events in Ukraine, instructed soldiers and participated in attacks against state buildings. Because of that, when he came back to Lithuania, the State Security Department decided that such a person represents a threat to national security and should not be living in Lithuania.”

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius noted that the Ukrainian citizen was not included in either the EU or Lithuanian blacklists last year, so the visa was issued to him legally. However, the minister added, “thank God that he will no longer be here, neither him nor his business. That’s what will happen too others, too. The situation is really pathetic.”

MP Artūras Paulauskas, chairman of the parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee, says that lawmakers are working on an updated national security strategy for the country in order to better respond to international situation.

“We believe there is a gap in our legislation – we need to make sure that our citizens who go to fight in different countries – be it Syria or Ukraine – without authorization from our government be held responsible for their actions,” Paulauskas told LRT.

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