Lithuania has taken down signs from its airports welcoming Middle Eastern travelers as the country attempts to curb immigration at the same time it takes in refugees from all over the world.
On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that flyers have been placed in Vilnius airport and Vilnius’s airport control tower reading, “Welcome” in Arabic and “Never Ever” in Russian, and that signs in English at both airports have been removed.
Colleagues and friends who are traveling from Vilnius, Belarus, and the European Union will see signs written in Lithuanian in addition to the signs written in Russian at the @VilniusLithuania. (For obvious reasons, we say “BIG DO! GIVE THE LIDNUK!” — Natasha Corretja (@NatashaCorretja) January 20, 2018
Few countries have taken this stance against Middle Eastern travelers that was put forward by new Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
The European Central Bank has temporarily suspended operations of its border control station at the Lithuanian-Russia border because of the sudden flow of refugees coming across the country.
In September, Lithuania was the site of the Europe-wide camp — Utopia — where detainees were kept in a pen, alternating light sleep and food scraps, for months in order to guarantee that no more would enter the country.
In a sign of the times, some of those temporarily held at Utopia were placed on temporary housing units at Vilnius Airport.
We haven’t been able to determine yet if these restrictions apply to all Belarusians traveling abroad. But the move is in line with the country’s efforts to clean up its image amid the U.S. accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
After the initial flight that landed yesterday in Vilnius was searched by Lithuanian police officials, that flight was then canceled. No explanation was given to the passengers. But once again, signs printed in Russian — not Lithuanian — were posted near Utopia to indicate that flight had been canceled. Several passengers of that flight have asked why they were not told why, and have said that they feel misled by airport staff.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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