An extremely unpleasant incident, which took place at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on 17 February, when a Russian citizen, Stanislav Byshok, was deported at Lithuania’s request, proves that the inadmissible practice of persecuting dissent in Lithuania has overstepped the borders of that Baltic state and is being forced upon its European partners.
Let me note that the Russian citizen arrived in the French capital at the invitation of the Independent Journalists Association for Peace to participate in an international conference, Freedom of the Press amid International Instability and Terrorism. Due to yet another provocation by Vilnius, freedom of speech and freedom of expressing an alternative view were again severely restricted.
We have to state that the Lithuanian authorities’ decision to restrict the freedom of movement of an independent Russian political commentator, who, by his own admission, has never even been to Lithuania, has purely political motives. In this connection, it would be appropriate to recall a similar incident which took place in October 2014, when Finnish border guards were forced to detain Russian political scientist Sergey Mikheyev and deny him entry because, as it turned out later, Lithuania had closed the Schengen space to him.
Going to any length to suppress any opinion that differs from their own has become an idée fixe with the Lithuanian authorities.
We expect relevant international organisations and experts, including the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, to come up with their principled assessments of the incident.
19 February 2016