The Lithuanian government has revoked the resident permits of 135 Russian citizens as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In an effort to assess whether these Russians pose a security threat, authorities are requiring them to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire reportedly includes questions about their stance on the conflict in Ukraine and their views on the rightful owner of Crimea.
Under Lithuanian law, the responses to these questionnaires are used to determine whether a foreigner poses a threat to state security or society. If a person is deemed to be a threat, their residence permit may be revoked. Since the beginning of the conflict, 135 Russian citizens have had their Lithuanian permits revoked. In 2022 alone, 38 Russians were expelled from the country, and an additional 97 permits have been revoked this year.
The expulsion of Russians from Lithuania has been met with mixed reactions. Last week, the Lithuanian State Security Department announced the expulsion of Russian journalist Vladimir Vodo. The agency claimed that Vodo posed a security risk due to his “disloyal views towards Lithuania, dissemination of pro-Russian propaganda on social media, and contacts with Russian and Belarusian intelligence services.” Vodo, who has been living in Lithuania since 1989, expressed concern about the order to return to Russia as he has no source of income or place to stay there. He also worries about being separated from his 86-year-old mother, who is a Lithuanian citizen.
These recent actions by the Lithuanian government have drawn criticism from the Russian foreign ministry. Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the ministry, labeled the Lithuanian government as “the main enemy” of Lithuania. She claimed that the policies pursued by Vilnius have led to the disappearance of a quarter of the Lithuanian population over the past 30 years. Zakharova pointed out that the population of Lithuania, which was nearly four million after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, has now dropped below three million.
Lithuania’s decision to revoke resident permits and assess the security threat posed by Russian citizens reflects the country’s concerns regarding the conflict in Ukraine. As a member of both NATO and the EU, Lithuania is taking measures to ensure its national security. However, these actions have raised questions about the potential impact on individuals like Vladimir Vodo and the repercussions for Russian-Lithuanian relations. The situation highlights the complexities and challenges of managing security concerns in the context of ongoing conflicts.