Lukashenko's decision to remove ambassador to Latvia is a political gesture to the Latvian government - expert

  • 2020-09-17
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The decision of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to remove the Ambassador to Latvia Vasily Markovich could be considered a political gesture to the Latvian government, Beate Livdanska, a researcher at the Eastern European Policy Research Center, told LETA.

"It is possible that this is a political gesture on the part of Lukashenko to show that the Belarussian government is not at peace with Latvia's political position on Belarus, which could be the reason why he recalled the ambassador," said the expert.

According to her, such a step of the current President of Belarus may have been influenced by several factors. One of them is whether the ambassador, in Lukashenko's view, has done enough to represent the interests and position of the Belarusian government in Latvia.

The second factor may be the decision of the Latvian government to apply targeted sanctions against Belarusian officials, including both the current President of Belarus and his son. It is possible that such a decision was also influenced by the decision of the Latvian government not to purchase electricity from the Astravjets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the expert said.

"If we add up all the factors, it is possible that Lukashenko is not really satisfied with the ambassador's activities in Latvia, representing the interests of Belarus," Livdanska said.

But on the other hand, it could just as easily be a superficial and technical justification to remove the ambassador, mainly Lukashenko taking such a step to express his position on Latvia.

As reported, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has recalled Belarusian Ambassador to Latvia Vasily Markovich, the president's press service reported on Wednesday evening.

Lukashenko has stripped two other diplomats of the diplomatic ranks of ambassadors - Pavel Latushko and Igor Leshchenya.

Markovich has been fired for "unsatisfactory performance of his official duties", while Latushko and Leshchenya lost their diplomatic ranks for "activities defaming the state (diplomatic) service".

Markovich on August 18 was called to the Latvian Foreign Ministry and was handed a note in relation to detention of Latvian citizens. He was also required explanations in relation to Lukashenko's statements that the protests in Belarus had been financed, including from Latvia.

In August, it was reported that Lukashneko's visit planned for April 2021 has been removed from the agenda. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics explained this with the events in Belarus and the fact that Latvia and other EU member states did not recognize the result of the Belarusian president elections.

Latushko was the ambassador to France in 2012-2019. Later he was the head of Janka Kupala National Academic Theater in Minsk, but was fired after he had condemned violence against protesters. After Latushko jointed the opposition's Coordinating Council, Lukashenko announced that he had stepped over the "red line".

Former ambassador to Slovakia Leshchenya also had voiced support to protesters and called on the authorities to invest all cases of torture and beating up of the protesters. He resigned from the post of the ambassador in late August.