Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko explained why in 2008 he expelled the U.S. ambassador, on Wednesday, October 17, Sputnik Belarus reports.
“Then, Belarusians almost started blaming me. Do you know why an Ambassador of America left the country in 2008? For interference in the elections in Belarus,” the president said.
According to the Lukashenko, then there was a blatant interference of American diplomats in the Belarusian election campaign: “And participation in demonstrations, and so on.”
“I gave her (the U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Karen Stewart – BelarusFeed note) and other diplomats a day to leave our country. Now tell me, how am I supposed to react to the American election meddling, even if there was any?”
The head of state said that he has already developed immunity to accusations. “I know that it is almost impossible to interfere in the American elections. And if someone stated their position, then they should first start with me.
Take my public statements during the U.S. I then openly supported Trump. Openly criticizing democratic America, how they acted against Trump,” the president stressed.
At the meeting, the president also commented on the detention of Russia’s Anna Bogacheva in Minsk, who was charged with attempting to meddle in the 2016 American presidential elections.
11 years without ambassadors
The cap on the U.S. diplomats in Minsk dates back to 2008 when Belarus expelled the U.S. ambassador retaliating for the sanctions Washington had imposed for poor human rights record and untransparent elections.
Minsk withdrew its ambassador and staff accordingly. Between 2008 and 2018 the quota was gradually expanded from 5 to 10 diplomats as relations between the USA and Belarus got unfrozen.
Charge d’affaires currently head the embassies in Minsk and Washington. The normal size of a U.S. embassy in a country like Belarus is about 30 diplomats plus local staff.
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Since then several high-level American diplomats visited Belarus, including the former U.S. President’s National Security Adviser John Bolton US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.