RIGA - In connection with the expulsion of Latvian diplomats from Belarus, the Latvian Embassy in Minsk has indefinitely discontinued the provision of consular services, LETA was told at the Latvian Foreign Ministry.
The ministry said that Latvian nationals who find themselves in an emergency situation in Belarus and require consular assistance (for instance, upon losing their identity document) are requested to contact an embassy of any EU member state in Minsk, the Latvian Consulate in Vitsebsk, or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by calling the hotline +371 26337711.
To inquire about the possibilities for receiving consular services (passports/ID, statements etc.), the Foreign Ministry advises to contact any diplomatic or consular mission of Latvia, for instance, the Consulate in Vitsebsk, the Latvian Embassy in Ukraine, the Latvian Embassy in Poland, etc.
Entry visas to Latvia can only be received at the Latvian Consulate in Vitsebsk by persons whose permanent place of residence is registered in the Vitsebsk Region. In addition, the Consulate accepts visa applications from cargo and passenger carriers as well as persons who are under the threat of persecution for political reasons in Belarus.
As reported, Latvian Ambassador to Belarus Einars Semanis on Monday was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry where he was told that he and other diplomats working at the Latvian embassy in Minsk have to leave the country, LETA was told at the Foreign Ministry.
Ambassador Semanis was given 24 hours and the other Latvian diplomats 48 hours to leave Belarus. The embassy is left with one administrative employee.
Responding to Belarus' decision, the Latvian Foreign Ministry summoned Belarus' charge d' affaires to inform that Belarusian diplomats are being expelled until relations between the two countries are normalized.
As LETA reported, Belarus' historical white-red-white flag was on Monday flown alongside the national flags of other nations participating in the Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) and Riga Mayor Martins Stakis (For/Progressives) replaced Belarus' official flag with the white-red-white standard at the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija where the Belarussian national ice hockey team is accommodated during the tournament.
Stakis said that the gesture was Riga City Council's initiative, backed by Belarus' opposition and intended to express support for the people who are suffering under the regime of Belarusian authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
As the Latvian foreign minister told LETA, by replacing Belarus' official flag with the historical white-red-white flag Latvia shows that it cannot and will not support the Belarusian authorities' crackdown on opposition activists.
He also noted that the hijacking of the Ryanair flight and capture of Protasevich and his girlfriend was a violation of international law and that such operations posed threats to civilian air traffic, passengers and Protasevich, who had found refuge in a foreign country from reprisals in Belarus.