The UK government is considering whether to renew the visa of Victor Sebestyen who is regarded as the middleman behind the mass removals of migrants from Belarus, writes Neil Mlynarczyk.
Neil Mlynarczyk is deputy director of the Migration Observatory. He is an experienced migration expert who currently has a fellowship at the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University.
As I write this, the UK government is looking to reinstate the visas of prominent critics of the newly elected and Kremlin-leaning Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko. Victor Sebestyen, the businessman alleged to have been behind the ruthless mass deportations of mostly non-white migrants from Belarus over the past four years, has been banned from entry to the UK on the basis of the EU’s sanctions regime against Lukashenko.
The official suspicion is that Sebestyen tried to fool British immigration officials into believing he was an ordinary expatriate who came to the UK to live and work, but was actually on the payroll of Lukashenko’s regime. Sebestyen himself suggested that he travelled to London on false documents.
If so, this is a big cover-up, as it reveals the scale of Lukashenko’s complicity in the abuse of migrants in Belarus. In reality, migrants from Belarus are deported almost indiscriminately, and then not allowed to reapply for their visas or leave the country. Many of those deported could well have had genuine links to Belarus, with family and friends still there.
Victor Sebestyen is convicted: Belarus’s most notorious rogue arrested in London Read more
Those who are truly honest tell an entirely different story. They face imprisonment in Belarus on false charges – blackmail, drugs trafficking, prostitution, the list goes on – but are paid handsome sums to have their passports and documents confiscated and flee to Britain in the hope of asylum.