Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica said that there are people in Belarus who have expressed an interest in claiming political asylum in Latvia and that the country is prepared to issue visas so that these people can come legally to Latvia and ask for asylum. The interest was moderate, said the ĀM representative, not revealing a specific number of applicants.
She explained that people who feel overly threatened or unable to continue their jobs could ask for asylum, but the absolute majority of activists wanted to stay in their country to bring about change.
“People want to primarily make changes in their own country. Therefore, contacts with both human rights organisations and journalists [show] that the primary purpose of these activists is to stay there, to be able to do their jobs, to report on human rights violations,” Kalniņa-Lukaševica said.
Belarusian activists could also come to Latvia for treatment and rehabilitation services without asking for asylum. “We will give them support. They will be able to come here without asking for asylum, but with a view to arriving for a period of time – about a month – to receive medical treatment, to improve their health,” Kalniņa-Lukaševica said.
Later on Tuesday, the government decided on the allocation of €50 thousand to allow around ten people from Belarus to be admitted to medical treatment in Latvia, plus other measures outlined in a tweet frmo Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs (below).
During the period of mandatory self-isolation, these people could enter one of the Latvian medical institutions, in which they will receive immediate medical treatment. These people might also need psychological support.
Some of them could come to Latvia in the next few days, also with their family members.
Government of Latvia allocated € 50 000 for medical treatment of Belarusians who were beaten by the regime, 6 persons have been treated in Latvia, more to come. We have issued 41 visa for politically persecuted individuals. 🇱🇻 stands in solidarity with the people of #Belarus— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) September 8, 2020