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European Journal

Lithuania: Belarusian Soldier Seeks Asylum

Stepan Zakharchenko belonged to Belarus's special forces. But he fled to Lithuania because he refused to sign documents committing himself to shoot at civilians.

Watch video 04:52

Belarus's special forces aren't squeamish. When the country's regime takes action against opposition demonstrators, it usually sends in special military units. A member of those forces deserted and fled to Lithuania to ask for asylum. According to his own information, he had been supposed to sign a form in Belarus giving his consent to using force against civilians opposed to the government in emergency situations. Belarus has requested his extradition from Lithuania, where he has yet to be recognized as a political refugee. He now fears deportation.