Migration body can't review Russian journalist asylum decision now

Yevgeni Titov

The Lithuanian Migration Department currently cannot review its decision not to grant asylum to Yevgeni Titov, a Russian journalist, its director said on Monday.

"At this stage, no. We are awaiting the court's decision," Evelina Gudzinskaitė told reporters when asked if the department might reverse its decision.

The Migration Department turned down the asylum application of Titov, a former Novaya Gazeta journalist who came to Lithuania in 2016, and the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court later dismissed his appeal. The Russian has appealed to the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court and is now waiting for its decision.

The Transatlantic Relations and Democracy Sub-committee of the Lithuanian parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs discussion the situation on Monday.

Gudzinskaitė said after the closed meeting of the sub-committee that, based on information that was available to the department at that time, its decision regarding Titov was "justified and lawful".

She noted, however, that the negative decision did not prevent the journalist from repeatedly applying for permission to stay in Lithuania if new circumstances emerged.

Emanuelis Zingeris, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that he would propose to pass amendments to make it easier for members of opposition to dictatorships to obtain asylum in Lithuania.

"The key issue is whether we have a legal basis for responding to Democrats' requests and granting the status of a political opponent to a dictatorial state," the conservative lawmaker said.

"After today's discussion, it seems to me that laws need to be supplemented and the Foreign Affairs Committee will undertake this (task), because we will include into laws the definition of a political dissident (....) as a person who has fled a dictatorial country," he said.

Titov, who came to Lithuania from Krasnodar in late 2016, has told BNS that he was afraid to stay in Russia after facing pressure from the authorities over his activities.

The Migration Department on February 21, 2017 refused to grant asylum to the Russian journalist, saying that his fears were objectively unsubstantiated. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court on Jun. 14 rejected his appeal against the department's decision on the same grounds.

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