A journalist with Belarus’ state-controlled television channel ONT, who is under the European Union’s travel ban, has been allowed entry to Lithuania to cover the OSCE Ministerial Council’s 18th session held in Vilnius on December 6 and 7.
The entry was granted to Alyaksey Mikhalchanka as an exception "because of the importance" of the meeting, a source in the Lithuanian foreign ministry told BelaPAN.
The source said that the ministry had held consultations on whether to allow Mr. Mikhalchanka to enter Lithuania.
In a statement issued later on Wednesday, the Lithuanian foreign ministry said that the journalist holds a valid national Lithuanian visa. The visa was granted on the ground that Mr. Mikhalchanka had been assigned to cover the ministerial meeting of the OSCE of which Belarus is a member, the ministry said.
A member country of the EU hosting an OSCE event may not deny entry to a person on the bloc's travel ban list if the purpose of the trip is to attend it, the ministry added.
Mr. Mikhalchanka was blacklisted by the European Union after the December 2010 presidential election, along with a number of other journalists working with state-run media outlets. The EU placed him on its list of Belarusian individuals subject to travel bans and asset freezes over his role in a crackdown on government opponents.