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Nicolas de Bouillane de Lacoste, the French ambassador to Belarus, left the country on Sunday. According to the embassy spokeswoman, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry had asked that the French representative “leave before October 18”, without explaining the reason given.
The French Ambassador to Belarus, Nicolas de Bouillane de Lacoste, has left the country, his embassy said on Sunday (October 17th). According to a spokesperson for the institution, Minsk had asked him to do so before Monday.
“Ambassador Nicolas de Lacoste left Belarus today,” said a spokesperson for the embassy, without explaining the reason given by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry for asking the ambassador to leave. “He said goodbye to the embassy staff and sent a video message addressed to the Belarusian people, which will appear tomorrow (Monday) on the embassy’s website,” she said.
But according to Belarusian media, the ambassador was expelled because he never presented his credentials to President Alexander Lukashenko.
In a message on its website, the French Embassy in Belarus indicated that the diplomat had presented on December 8, 2020 “the figurative copy of his credentials” to Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei.
France, like other countries in the European Union, has not recognized the results of the August 2020 presidential election, which granted Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term and sparked massive protests for several months. and unprecedented in this former Soviet republic, an ally of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Paris refuses Lukashenko’s victory
The European Union and the United States adopted a series of sanctions against the Belarusian regime after the crackdown on opponents of Alexander Lukashenko. But the 67-year-old leader, who accuses Western governments of instigating protests in the hope of provoking a revolution, is resisting sanctions for now, with support and credits from Moscow. Belarus recently cut ties with other Western interlocutors.
In March, he expelled all Latvian embassy staff, including the ambassador, because the Latvian authorities used the Belarusian opposition flag at an ice hockey championship.
And in August, Minsk withdrew its agreement for the appointment of American ambassador Julie Fisher, who was confirmed in December as the first envoy of the United States to this former Soviet republic since 2008.
Since then, the regime has managed to put an end to the protests, imprisoned hundreds of opponents and shut down dozens of media and NGOs. Opposition leaders have all been jailed or forced into exile. Last month, a Belarusian court sentenced one of the main opposition figures, Maria Kolesnikova, to 11 years in prison.
She is the only leader of last year’s protests, which sometimes brought together hundreds of thousands of people, still in the country.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, whose opposition and Westerners believe she won the presidential election against Alexander Lukashenko, is in exile in neighboring Lithuania. During the year following the election, she mobilized the world’s great leaders, calling on the international community to press for a new presidential election in Belarus.