Former Ambassador of Belarus to Argentina Vladimir Astapenko has filed a lawsuit against the Foreign Ministry. The former diplomat demands to change the wording of the reason for dismissal in the order on his dismissal.
Recall that Vladimir Astapenko submitted his notice of resignation on the day of Alexander Lukashenko’s inauguration, 23 September, stating that he believes “in a better future for the Belarusian people”. On 27 October, the ambassador withdrew this statement and submitted a new one.
He demanded to dismiss him with reference to Article 41 of the Labor Code in connection with a violation of the law by an employer. Astapenko stressed that the employer’s actions create objective conditions for non-recognition of the legitimacy of the head of state and the international isolation of Belarus.
On 3 November, Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree dismissing Astapenko and depriving him of his diplomatic rank “in connection with an offence incompatible with being in the diplomatic service.” Astapenko fundamentally disagrees with this wording of the reason for his dismissal and filed a lawsuit against the Foreign Ministry in the Leninsky District Court of Minsk.
The ex-ambassador’s lawyer Sergei Zikratsky explained that from a legal point of view, the diplomat’s employer was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It issued an order to dismiss Astapenko, which was based on Lukashenko’s decree since the dismissal of the ambassador and the wording by which he is removed from office is the prerogative of the president.
“The lawsuit relates directly to the wording of the reason for the dismissal, he is satisfied with the fact that he was fired, since he himself applied for dismissal, explaining that the present government was not legitimate enough and committed the violations which did not give him moral and legal right to carry out diplomatic service,” explained the lawyer
Astapenko insists that he should have been dismissed by agreement of the parties after his second letter of resignation, where he referred to Article 41 of the Labor Code: in connection with the violation of the law by an employer that impeded the performance of his duties under the employment contract.
The ex-ambassador himself is not in Belarus and intends to participate in the trial via video link. On 18 December, lawyer Sergei Zikratsky and a representative of the defendant – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – were summoned to the court for an interview, during which a judge will clarify the positions of the parties and set a date for a preliminary hearing.