In Russia and the former Soviet Union, citizens are now able to apply for asylum in the country, even if they have not committed any crime.
The decision to apply is usually made by local authorities and the process is extremely fast, with applications approved in under two weeks, according to the European Asylum Support Office.
The Russian government recently extended the time period of asylum from three months to three years.
In Belarus, asylum seekers are only allowed to apply after a judge determines they are not a threat to public safety, according the Belarusian state news agency, Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
The new rules were also announced by the Russian government.
A person can apply for the asylum of a family member, friend or acquaintance who is at risk of death, bodily harm or injury and is being threatened with serious harm, or is a suspect in a crime, according Alexei Kondratiev, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for International Cooperation.
He added that an application can be rejected if the applicant is not a victim of crimes or has no connections with terrorism, but it is not an excuse to commit crimes, the agency reported.
In recent weeks, the European Union has expressed concern over Russia’s increasing use of anti-terror laws, which were initially introduced in 2014 as part of a crackdown on the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In the wake of the 2015 Sochi Winter Olympics, Moscow implemented anti-terrorism laws that saw the police and the Federal Security Service (FSB) adopt surveillance tactics designed to target the “terrorists” who would be among the largest and most organized threat groups in Russia.
The law also included provisions allowing the FSB to arrest foreign nationals for the purpose of monitoring their communications, including social media accounts and websites.
The measures were widely criticized by human rights groups, who called them draconian.
The Kremlin’s use of new anti-terrorist measures to target international terrorism was not new.
In the summer of 2016, Moscow passed a law that extended the country’s use-of-force statute to cover any foreign terrorist.
The legislation, which came into effect on January 1, 2018, allowed the Fsb to detain foreign nationals, and the law also authorized the Fsn to use force against them if they attempted to escape.
The country was also granted a “special status” under the law that allowed it to conduct special operations against foreign terrorists and other individuals who pose a threat of causing “serious harm to national security.”