Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 120

The ambassadors of the United States and all five European Union countries represented in Minsk–Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Greece–left Belarus yesterday, having been withdrawn by their governments “for consultations.” The ambassadors of Turkey and Lithuania had left a few days earlier. Those of Poland and Japan announced yesterday that they are being withdrawn effective immediately. The Bulgarian ambassador, doyen of the diplomatic corps in Minsk, supported the action of the departing envoys. The EU’s envoy to Ukraine and Belarus, who resides in Kyiv, will henceforth refrain from traveling to Belarus.

The Belarusan envoys in those countries are being sent home and several of them who are home at this moment are being told officially to stay there. The action responds to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s recent decision to appropriate the Drazdy compound, where the missions reside. Lukashenka followed up by cutting off water, electricity, heating, and telephone services to the compound and banning diplomatic cars from the residential grounds rented by the missions.

The exodus leaves in Minsk only the Russian ambassador and several envoys of CIS countries, plus the headquarters of the CIS Executive Secretariat. Russia, which owned the premises of its mission, would have had even stronger reasons than the Western countries to protest against Lukashenka’s steps. However, Moscow proceeds gingerly with its mercurial ally. CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky honored Lukashenka with a visit yesterday, ostensibly to report on his efforts to settle conflicts in CIS countries. (Itar-Tass and other Russian agencies, June 22)