Lithuania denies asylum to Belarusian human rights defender, Weimar Prize honoree Olga Karach. Authorities argue threat to state security.

Luthuania has denied an asylum request from Olga Karach, a Belarusian human rights advocate who currently lives in the country.

An alumna of Stanford University’s Leadership Academy for Development, Karach has been honored with numerous international awards for advancing civil liberties in Belarus for decades. This includes the Weimar Human Rights Prize she received last December, for her work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as the advocacy work of Our House, an NGO she founded to counter repressions, violence, and abuses in Belarusian politics.

Karach is unsure how long she’ll be able to stay in Lithuania, now that her asylum request has been denied. According to the activist, who spoke about the situation to Meduza, the Lithuanian authorities argue that she’s a “threat to state security.”

The Lithuanian immigration service explained to her, she says, that her application was denied because she had once interviewed the founder of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and also because she had attended conferences in Russia (including an event organized by the European Commission).

The KGB of Belarus blacklisted Karach as a terrorist in 2021. Since being declared an extremist organization in May 2022, Our House is also persecuted in Belarus. In December 2022, while trying to board a flight in Rome, Karach learned that her Belarusian passport had been revoked.