U.S. Ambassador To Belarus: Lukashenko Unlikely To Remain In Power If He Continues To Crack Down On Opponents

Alexander Lukashenko is unlikely to remain in power for long if he continues to crack down on opponents, the U.S. ambassador to Minsk said on Thursday, 22 April, Reuters reports.

Julie Fisher believes that it was unlikely Lukashenko’s presidency would last long if he did not talk to the Belarusian people. “It seems hard to imagine that that can continue in the near term,” she told Reuters during a visit to Lithuania to meet Belarusian democracy activists.

“The protest dynamics have changed the credibility of the regime in Belarus. I don’t believe that any government that stands in defiance of the will of the people, that so blatantly ignores the will of the people, is sustainable.”

Speaking before talks between Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Ambassador Julie Fisher also said Washington was concerned that Belarus had become more dependent on Moscow since mass protests began last August.

Reuters notes that Moscow sees Belarus as a buffer against the European Union and NATO.

“What we observe is that dial continuing to move away from Belarus sovereignty and independence, and that is something that concerns the United States of America,” Fisher said.

Washington named Fisher as ambassador to Belarus in December, a post vacant since 2008, but she has not yet presented credentials in Minsk.

U.S. Ambassador to Belarus

Recall that on 21 April, Deputy Foreign Minister of Lithuania Mantas Adomenas said that U.S. Ambassador Julie Fisher appointed by Washington to Minsk, who had not received a Belarusian visa, may temporarily reside in Vilnius.

“There was an official appeal from the United States to the government of the Republic of Lithuania with a request to accredit the ambassador to Lithuania. […]  The [Lithuanian] government has not yet formulated an official response. [But] we are very pleased,” said Adomenas.

Earlier Julie Fisher explained that she has not yet arrived in Minsk, since she does not have a Belarusian visa. Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei stressed that the official Minsk wants “to have complete clarity in what status the appointed ambassador intends to work in Belarus”.

“If she is going to come and make statements about the illegitimacy of the regime, then what is the point in doing so? I think that in this case she will sit in the embassy and do nothing and will not be able to work effectively, including establishing direct contacts between the structures of Belarus and the United States,” the minister said.

He also noted that Belarus is ready to receive the American ambassador at any time, but wants to have “a clear and understandable perspective for further interaction in all areas with American partners.