Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 112

The deadline for eviction of foreign missions from Minsk’s Drazdy compound expired yesterday, only to be extended by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka until June 17. The Belarusan Foreign Ministry cited Lukashenka as expressing “concern over situation that has come about.” The President instructed government agencies to assist the foreign missions in moving out and finding other accommodations by the new deadline. The government has not rescinded the warning that electricity, water and communications services to the compound would be cut on the deadline. Government officials were cited as saying yesterday that the missions should use the one-week reprieve to pack.

Fifteen heads of foreign missions, including U.S. Ambassador Daniel Speckhard, have collectively petitioned Lukashenka to overrule subordinate officials and rescind the eviction orders. The missions have valid leases. At least one of them–Russia–actually owns its premises. Speckhard and French ambassador Bernard Fassier told the press yesterday at an outdoors briefing that their missions and others will ignore the new deadline and that their governments will retaliate if the missions are evicted. Western representatives take the position that the eviction orders constitute the most serious violation of diplomatic conventions since the end of the Cold War. Some non-Western missions, however, act less resolutely. (AP, UPI, Reuter, June 10)