18 January 2018, Thursday, 4:31

Lithuanian court took the side of Belarusian soldier


Vilnius Regional Administrative Court has referred Stepan Zaharchenko's case back for reconsideration.

As reported, Junior Sergeant Stepan Zaharchenko from Belarus, who deserted from an armed forces unit in Minsk and crossed Lithuania's border, had asked for a refugee status in Lithuania.

The court concluded that Migration Department which dealt with Zaharchenko's application for a refugee status, has failed to handle the application in line with requirements, to explain the applicant his rights and obligations, to examine and evaluate the circumstances why he left his homeland, to collect enough data on the situation in Belarus from Lithuania-based human rights institutions.

Head of the Civil Defence Assistance Fund Stasys Kausinis said he was expecting such ruling.

"We invested a great deal of effort. First of all, I would like to thank the reporters who helped to cover this issue, also Lithuanian society and basically the entire European society because we heard of petitions in Norway and other countries," he said.

Zaharchenko ran to Lithuania last year after refusing to sign a pledge on agreement to shoot at participants of demonstrations in Belarus.

He applied the Civil Defence Assistance Fund in Lithuania on September 5, asking to be granted a refugee's status.

The Fund said that by refusing an asylum and sending Zaharchenko back to Belarus, Lithuania would itself breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits deporting or extraditing individuals "who might be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in the recipient state."