Pursuant to Article 2 of the Law on the State Border Guard Service, the State Border Guard Service (hereinafter, the SBGS) is charged with controlling borders (border surveillance and border checks) in Lithuania. The SBGS falls under authority of the Ministry of the Interior, which supervises and controls the implementation of border guard policy.
The Law on the State Border Guard Service establishes tasks and functions of the SBGS and the rights and responsibilities of the SBGS personnel. The structure of the SBGS is as follows:
||Ignalina Frontier District|
The Frontier District was established on 1 May 1997.
The then Vilnius Border Police District and Vilnius Border Police Checkpoint Brigade were joined and restructured, and that resulted in establishing three districts, viz. Visaginas (later dubbed as Ignalina), Vilnius and Varėna.
The District started its activities on 18 June 1997. The newly formed body initially settled at the Visaginas Border Guards School where the Headquarters of the Visaginas District were situated for some time.
Eighteen months later, on 1 January 1999, the Visaginas District was labelled Ignalina Border Police District.
15 November 2000 was the day when the district moved to refurbished premises, formerly a school, in the town of Ignalina.
After the Border Police Department was restructured on 1 May 2001, this District was given the name of the Ignalina Frontier District.
The same year the Ignalina Frontier District started to secure a small section of the Lithuanian State border with Latvia, as it took over the Zarasai Frontier Station from the Šiauliai Frontier District.
In 2001 and 2002, three new Frontier Stations of the Ignalina Frontier District were ceremoniously opened providing border guards, who had been billeted in inconvenient premises, with modern and spacious quarters.
The main activities of the Frontier District are surveillance of the State border and border checks of persons and vehicles crossing the State border.
The security of the border with Belarus, which is a European Union’s internal border, is in the focus of attention; the Frontier District actively works fitting it with a footprint tracking strip and patrol path.
Co-operating with other authorities, border guards of Ignalina help in many ways to maintain public peace and security in the frontier. The Ignalina Frontier District is ready to respond to warfare or emergency situations, and is to assist the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Security Unit when necessary.
Border guards are in contact with frontier residents, co-operate with local administrations and media, and regularly meet children from schools and orphanages.
||Vilnius Frontier District|
The Frontier District was established in 1992 as a detachment of the State Border Guard Service within a broader structure of the Ministry of National Defence.
At that time, the detachment, or brigade, was in charge of frontier stations at Kapčiamiestis, Druskininkai, Medininkai, Šalčininkai, Dieveniškės, Mickūnai, Pabradė, Švenčionys and Ignalina, and managed a training station at Visaginas.
In June 1993, the then Vilnius Border Guard Brigade (BGB) moved to a building in Naujoji Vilnia, an outskirt of Vilnius City, a former Soviet military commissariat.
On 16 July 1993, the State Border Guard Service issued an order extending the operational powers of the Vilnius BGB.
The chief of the Vilnius BGB was assigned to staff the Brigade independently.
The main task of the Vilnius BGB was then to secure almost all length of the ‘green’ border between Lithuania and Belarus and organise cross-border movements.
After the military border guards were restructured as Border Police Department in 1994, the Vilnius BGB was renamed Vilnius Border Police District.
The year 1997 saw a reform of border police units; the Vilnius Border Police District and Vilnius Border Police Checkpoint Brigade were restructured establishing a Visaginas (later dubbed Ignalina), Varėna and Vilnius Border Police Districts.
When the Border Police Department was reorganised as State Border Guard Service in 2001, the Vilnius Border Police District was renamed SBGS’s Vilnius Frontier District.
As sections of the Lithuanian and Belarus border were re-distributed between SBGS’s frontier stations in December 2002 to optimise surveillance, part of the section secured by G. Žagunis Frontier Station was assigned to a renewed Dieveniškės Frontier Station.
On 1 January 2003, the SBGS established a new Kena Railway Station specifically for proper checks of transit passengers, Russian nationals, travelling between ‘mainland’ Russia and Kaliningrad.
The main task of the Vilnius Frontier District today is to enhance the surveillance of the border with Belarus which is a section of the European Union’s external border.
||Varėna Frontier District|
The Frontier District in its current shape was established on 30 April 1997, as were the Ignalina and Vilnius Frontier Districts. It was assigned to secure the southern section of the Lithuanian and Belarus border after the three frontier districts were formed from the Vilnius Border Police District and Vilnius Border Police Checkpoint Brigade.
Located in Druskininkai, the Frontier District consisted of the Headquarters, staff platoon and frontier stations at Šalčininkai, Eišiškės, Varėna, Kabeliai, Druskininkai and Kapčiamiestis.
In October 1999, the Frontier district moved from Druskininkai to Varėna.
New Purvėnai and Kabeliai Frontier Stations were constructed in 2001, and the Dubičiai Frontier Station moved to new quarters on 19 November 2002.
Starting October 2002, the Varėna Frontier District includes frontier stations at Dubičiai, Tribonys, Purvėnai, Druskininkai and Kabeliai, and a Special Tasks Squad.
The Frontier District operates on the basis of regular situational analyses. The Special Tasks Squad and intelligence operatives are effectively deployed to intensify the surveillance of the section of the Lithuanian and Belarus border the Frontier District is responsible for.
Furthermore, aircraft of SBGS’s Aviation Squadron, mobile thermal imaging equipment, surveillance towers and auxiliary posts are used to secure the border; a fan-propelled boat and motorbikes are helpful at the Nemunas (Neman) river.
No least importance is attributed to service dogs, the latter numbering 31.
||Lazdijai Frontier District|
Control of the border with Poland was first assumed by Lithuanian authorities in October 1990 upon the establishment of a Lazdijai Border Crossing Point (BCP) in the village of Akmeniai, on an international road from Lazdijai to Seinai.
Established later, the BCPs at Mockava (rail) and Kalvarija (road) were integral units of the Lazdijai Border Chekpoint.
On 27 June 1996, the Lazdijai Border Police Checkpoint Brigade and Marijampolė Border Police District were joined to form a South-West Border Police District.
The latter was restructured as Lazdijai Border Police District in late 1998, by an order of the Border Police Department.
Later dubbed Lazdijai Frontier District, this unit had only been responsible for the surveillance of the border with Poland until 1 October 2002 when it took over the Girėnai Frontier Station at the border with Russia and Kapčiamiestis Frontier Station at the border with Belarus, previously run by the Pagėgiai and Varėna Frontier Districts, respectively.
This was done in order to enhance the security of Lithuanian borders with Russia and Belarus which will be European Union’s external borders and to re-deploy border guard forces moved from the future EU internal border between Lithuania and Poland.
Security at the Lithuanian-Polish-Russian and Lithuanian-Polish-Belarus border junctions has thus improved by virtue of the Lazdijai Frontier District’s involvement, if compared to the time when frontier districts secured border sections corresponding with geographic boundaries between countries. Frontier District’s priority is today to implement the State border guard policy and frontier regulations within the border section it is responsible for.
||Pagėgiai Frontier District|
Border checks were first introduced at 64 Lithuanian checkpoints on 19 November 1990; the Šilutė Frontier Station established earlier on 27 October was to administer 3 checkpoints at Rusnė, Pagėgiai and Panemunė.
On 29 April 1994, the Ministry of National Defence (MoD) established the Pagėgiai Border Guard Brigade assigning it to secure the Lithuanian-Russian border; that was done in the framework of restructuring MoD’s State Border Guard Service and re-distributing border sections and border crossing points between its newly formed units. At that time, the Brigade consisted of Vištytis, Kybartai, Šakiai, Viešvilė, Pagėgiai and Rusnė Frontier Stations.
After the MoD’s State Border Guard Service was restructured as Border Police Department at the Ministry of the Interior in July 1994, the Pagėgiai Border Police District consisted of Girėnai, Kybartai, Slavikai, Viešvilė, Pagėgiai and Vileikiai Border Police Stations, and Kybartai and Pagėgiai Border Police Control Services.
This unit was named Pagėgiai Frontier District on 1 May 2001 when the State Border Guard Service was formed from the Border Police Department.
On 1 October 2002, the Pagėgiai Frontier District yielded its Girėnai Frontier Station to the adjacent Lazdijai Frontier District, previously responsible for only the Lithuanian-Polish border section.
The Frontier District’s most important task today is to ensure security of the State border, enforce frontier regulations and improve the practices of border surveillance and border checks.
The surveillance of the Lithuanian border with Russia is organised in line with European Union’s requirements applied to external borders; close attention is paid to all aspects of border management embracing land border sections, frontier waters and border checks of persons and vehicles.
||Coast Guard District|
The Frontier District administers 5 international border crossing points, namely, (1) Molo, (2) Pilies, (3) Malkų įlankos (all the three established within the Klaipėda State Seaport), (4) Nida (road), and (5) Būtingė (road).
The Provisional Law on the Border Guard Service adopted by the Supreme Soviet on 8 November 1990, the Law on the National Defence Service followed on 20 November 1990.
The two laws provided a basis for the formation of the Border Guard Service within the territorial zones of the Department of National Defence; the Šilutė, Kretinga and Klaipėda Frontier Stations were established in the Klaipėda zone.
After the 31 December 1991 reform of the Border Guard Service, the Coast Guard Brigade was established comprising 8 frontier stations, a control service running 5 border crossing points, a rapid-response company and an independent ship division.
The Border Guard Service assigned the Brigade to secure a section starting at the intersection of the Šventoji River and the border with Latvia, across the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon, further along the Nemunas (Neman) River, to the intersection of the latter with the State border at a settlement of Smalininkai.
In July 1992, Lithuanian border guards took over frontier stations and other facilities from Soviet border troops; before that, they had performed service in temporarily equipped places.
In February 1992, the Brigade was provided with an inshore boat Vytis to guard the harbour gates and, later in June, with a boat Vėtra which was used to guard the State border in the sea.
By an order of the minister of the national defence, the Coast Guard Brigade was renamed Klaipėda Brigade, and its border crossing points formed an independent Klaipėda Border Checkpoint Brigade.
The restructuring of the Border Police Department in 1996 provided a rationale for improving border guard practices in the sea by virtue of concentrating the information networks and management of all units functioning at the seashore.
The Klaipėda Border Police and Border Checkpoint Brigades were consecutively unified and formed a single Coast Guard Border Police District.
The latter was assigned to guard a section of the border with Russian Federation’s Kaliningrad Oblast in the Curonian Lagoon and Baltic Sea, secure the boundaries of territorial waters, and guard a border section with Latvia in the sea and on land.
||Šiauliai Frontier District|
Established in 1993, the Šiauliai Border Guard Commandant’s Office was assigned to guard 610 km of the border between Lithuania and Latvia.
The Commandant’s Office was situated in the Ministry of Defence’s volunteers’ service regional headquarters in Joniškis, and consisted of the Zarasai, Rokiškis, Biržai, Pasvalys, Joniškis, Skuodas, Akmenė and Mažeikiai Frontier Stations.
In June 1994, the Commandant’s Office was restructured as Šiauliai Border Guard Brigade and moved to the quarters of the Naujoji Akmenė Frontier Station.
Later in 1994, the Brigade was restructured as Border Police Department’s Šiauliai Border Police District comprising the Skuodas, Mažeikiai, Naujoji Akmenė, Joniškis, Pasvalys, Biržai, Rokiškis and Zarasai Border Police Control Services and the Saločiai Border Crossing Point.
In late September 1995, the District Headquarters changed its location again, this time for a refurbished, former Soviet military facility in Šiauliai where it has stayed until now.
In 1996, the Šiauliai Border Police District’s border section was guarded by Zarasai, Rokiškis, Biržai, Pasvalys, Joniškis, Naujoji Akmenė, Mažeikiai, Skuodas and Laukžemė Border Police Stations. The Zokniai Border Crossing Point performed border checks at the Šiauliai Airport.
In August 1997, a Saločiai – Grenctale Joint Border Cossing Pint, the first such point in Lithuania, was established within the Pasvalys Border Police Station; Border Guards, Customs and other agencies work under the same roof there.
In 1999, the Joniškis Border Police Station took over the Zokniai Border Crossing Point; the border section of the Akmenė Border Police Station was divided out between the Mažeikiai and Joniškis Border Police Stations.
In 2001, the Zarasai Border Police Station was yielded to the Ignalina Border Police District.
On 1 June 2001, Border Police Department’s Šiauliai Border Police District was restructured as State Border Guard Service’s Šiauliai Frontier Station; a special tasks squad was formed.
On 1 January 2003, part of the Skuodas Frontier Station’s border section, 13,49 km, was yielded to the Coast Guard District’s Palanga Frontier Station.
The Frontier District’s main activities are border surveillance, border checks and international co-operation.
The Frontier District’s major objective is to perform border checks normally in respect of only persons and vehicles entering Lithuania, exit traffic to be checked by Latvian Border Guards. The way to that should start with random checks and installation of control systems effectively identifying illegal immigrants, stolen vehicles and wanted persons.
Border guards should prevent persons from circumventing border crossing points, be able to respond quickly to incidents and maintain safe regulations of the frontier.
||Ignalina Nuclear Power|
Plant Security Brigade
The Ministry of National Defence’s (MoND) Independent Battalion for Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Security was established by the 24 October 1991 decree of Lithuanian Government. On 7 November, the MoND ordered to start to form the battalion.
Order No 1 of the Battalion was signed to enrol first officers on 18 November 1991.
By 1 December 1991, the Battalion was completely staffed and was quartered in the town of Sniečkus (later renamed Visaginas). The Battalion’s structure replicated that of a Soviet military unit which was securing the power plant at the time. The Battalion officers had been trained until 10 January 1992 when they took over the responsibility for nuclear power plant security from the 95th Independent Battalion of the 6th Independent Brigade of the Internal Troops of the Russian Ministry of the Interior.
The Statute of the Battalion was approved by the first deputy minister of national defence, N. Vidrinskas, on 12 December 1991.
Lithuanian Government’s Resolution issued on 15 April 1996 instructed that the MoND’s Independent Battalion was to be restructured as Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Security Brigade of the Border Police Department at the Ministry of the Interior.
The Brigade secures the perimeter and supervises the access of persons and vehicles to the power plant. Officers are able to protect the site from terrorist attacks in the restricted zone which is within a distance of 3 km from the perimeter.
Border Guard School
A decision to establish Border Guard Service’s Training Centre in the town of Visaginas was taken in October 1991.
Later in November, the first officers arrived at the Centre.
On 23 November, the head of the Centre took over facilities of Soviet Army Military Unit No 05369.
The first batch of military conscripts received instruction in the Centre in 1991; the training companies were thus formed.
In 1992, the Centre sent first trained conscripts to frontier stations at the Lithuanian-Polish border.
The duration of the basic curriculum for border guards’ training was only two weeks.
In 1993, the Centre introduced a 3 months-long curriculum for newly enrolled officers.
In 1995, the Centre switched to a 6 months-long curriculum for basic training of border police officers.
In June 1999, the Visaginas Border Training Centre restructured as Visaginas Border Police School.
In September 1999, a 2-year curriculum for basic vocational training was introduced.
After the Border Police Department was restructured as State Border Guard Service in 2001, the School was renamed Visaginas Border Guards School.
The same year saw the first crop of border guards who left the school.
The School is today an SBGS’s institution for vocational training, which provides instruction following a 2-year curriculum.
The students spend half the duration of studies on probation at SBGS units; those who have not completed the national service receive the military instruction, and the national service is accordingly attested.
The School provides advanced, also in-service, training to personnel.
Assisted by the British Council, the School established a modern English Training Centre at the Vilnius Frontier District’s Medininkai Frontier Station in 2002, which is to improve personnel’s knowledge of foreign languages.
A training centre is established at the Vilnius Frontier District’s Mickūnai Frontier Station to give instruction to dog handlers and service dogs.
The School is willing to co-operate with other educational centres in order to share experiences and training materials and involve in instructors exchanges.
The School maintains active international relations, especially with similar educational institutions in the Baltic Sea region, such as the Frontier and Coast Guard School in Imatra, Finland, Border Guards School in Kętrzyn, Poland, and Border Guards College in Rezekne, Latvia.
The School does research on the priorities of SBGS development and on the guidelines for advanced training.
The accession of Lithuania to the European Union implies that surveillance of the external borders and border checks ought to be performed by professional, well-trained staff. Training at the School is so organised as to meet the high-level requirements applicable to training quality and professionalism of instructors.
Foreigners Registration Centre
The FRC was established in January 1997.
Following a governmental resolution, the new unit was located in the quarters of the Border Police Department’s Rapid-Response Squad.
On 1 January 2000, the Border Police Department took the management of the FRC over from the Police Department; after the former was restructured, the FRC remained in the sphere of authority of the State Border Guard Service.
The FRC takes a territory of 8 hectares; it is the only facility in Lithuania providing, upon court decisions, temporary domicile to foreigners who illegally entered or stayed in Lithuania.
Upon decisions by the Migration Department, the FRC also accommodates asylum applicants.
Furthermore, the FRC is responsible for transferring those foreigners, who have been granted temporary asylum in Lithuania, to the Refugee Reception Centre in Rukla.
The FRC is capable of accommodating 500 foreigners at a time, including 300 illegal immigrants and 200 asylum applicants.
The FRC has worked an effective structure of separate internal zones, each designed for foreigners enjoying a specific status. The accommodation and services meet the requirements of the law as well as European Union’s standards and practices.
The FRC is also to organise voluntary returns of foreigners to their home countries and removals from Lithuania.
Effective are the investigations in the legal circumstances of foreigners’ stay in Lithuania; these help to prevent illegal immigration. Links with national and foreign partners are useful for solving the different problems related to foreigners.