- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Czech Republic Grants Hundreds of Visas to Opponents of Belarusian and Russian Regimes Under Civil Society Program
The Czech Republic has issued hundreds of visas to individuals opposing the regimes of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin since the launch of its Civil Society program last year. Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Drake confirmed this information, highlighting the country’s commitment to supporting those facing persecution in their home countries.
The Civil Society program, initiated by the ministry in May of the previous year, was specifically designed to aid independent journalists, academics, and other individuals actively opposing the authoritarian regimes in Russia and Belarus. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky had emphasized the importance of supporting prominent representatives of civil society, enabling them to continue their work against these oppressive regimes while providing a safe environment in Prague.
While the exact number of visas issued cannot be confirmed for security reasons, the Foreign Ministry stated that several hundred visas have been granted to both Russians and Belarusians. These visas include Schengen visas and long-term visas, which constitute a significant portion of the applications processed under the Civil Society Program.
The ministry collaborates with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and entities operating in Belarus to facilitate the visa application and processing procedure. Given the sensitive nature of these cases, the applications are assessed carefully and individually. This approach ensures that the visas are granted to those genuinely involved in human rights activism or facing persecution.
In the case of students from Belarus, the ministry makes accommodations for those participating in scholarship programs offered by the Czech government, the Ministry of Education, or the European Union, allowing them to apply for long-term residence in the Czech Republic.
It’s worth noting that the Czech government had decided, shortly after Russia’s attack on Ukraine last year, to suspend the issuance of visas to Russian citizens and later extended this policy to Belarusian citizens, with exceptions made for humanitarian cases. This regulation is set to remain in effect until the end of March 2024.
The Czech Republic’s commitment to providing refuge and support to individuals opposing repressive regimes underscores its dedication to human rights and civil society. The Civil Society program plays a crucial role in offering sanctuary to those who face persecution for their activism and advocacy for democratic values.
Article by Prague Forum