MINSK, 19 July (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko raised the issue of Belarus' visa waiver program for citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland as he met with Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Karanik in Minsk on 19 July, BelTA has learned.
"It's a peculiar issue. We have launched a visa-waiver program for citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. First of all, this is your area of responsibility as you lead the frontier region. What are your impressions, your point of view on this?” the head of state asked. “Do we continue with it? What is the reaction of people, both visitors from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland and our people? Most importantly, how do our people feel about it?"
"The governments of these countries have gone bananas. They are losing it. They are picking at children now. This is all you need to know about freedom of speech and human rights. But, nevertheless, I wonder how our people react to this and what your point of view on the further use of the program is ,” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.
As for the attacks on children, the president was most likely referring to the situation with the real harassment and persecution of representatives of the Riga Children's Academy of Radio and Television Academy KidsTV who came to Belarus for the Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk festival. The Belarusian head of state have them a brief interview.
After that, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Security Service of Latvia started an inquiry into the trip of the young journalists to Belarus. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics went even further by saying that the academy might be closed. “Due to the gross disregard for the travel safety recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and participation in the information warfare, the activities of such organizations are unacceptable and should be stopped,” he said.
In turn, the State Security Service of Latvia opened a treason probe against the children and their teachers and is checking whether their activities might present a threat to national security.