Opposition politician Atroshchankaw taken off Vilnius-bound train by Belarusian border guards

Opposition politician Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw was taken off a Vilnius-bound train on Wednesday morning as he made another attempt in the last two weeks to travel abroad...

 

Opposition politician Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw was taken off a Vilnius-bound train on Wednesday morning as he made another attempt in the last two weeks to travel abroad.

“I was traveling to Lithuania for private purposes, but Belarusian border guards pulled me off the train at the Hudahay station,” Mr. Atroshchankaw told BelaPAN, speaking by phone from the railroad station. “They said that I was barred from traveling abroad. Meanwhile, after I was taken off a train the previous time, Minsk’s Tsentralny district citizenship and migration office, which I later visited to recover my passport, gave me a document reading that I was not on a foreign travel ban list. I had the paper on me, but the border guards would not pay any attention to it.”

“Mercifully, they did not search for any drugs or charge me with ‘petty hooliganism` this time," he said.

“I will visit the citizenship and migration office once again to find out who lied to me -- whether those were its officers who gave me what may appear to be a fake paper or the border guards who claimed that I am under a travel ban,” said the politician.

In late March, Mr. Atroshchankaw, a former political prisoner who is a member of European Belarus, and two other opposition politicians -- Syarhey Kalyakin, leader of the "Spravedlivy Mir" (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, and Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party, -- were prevented by the Belarusian authorities from traveling to Brussels for meetings with European Commission representatives. They were arrested in Orsha while traveling by train to Moscow to fly to Belgium. The three men were sentenced to fines and released the following day.

Messrs. Kalyakin and Lyabedzka are also known to be among a dozen politicians, human rights defenders and journalists who were placed by the Belarusian authorities on a foreign travel ban list earlier this month after the European Union imposed travel bans and asset freezes on more citizens of Belarus.