Belarus expels US diplomats

Foreign ministry's order comes amid a row over restrictions on political freedoms.

    Moore said that political prisoners were more important than the number of diplomats [Reuters]
    "For the United States, the political prisoners in Belarus are much more important than the number of American diplomats in Belarus," he said.

    Washington has said it could resume dialogue with the Belarus government if it were to release Alexander Kozulin, an academic who was jailed for five and a half years for helping organise protests against the election of Alexander Lukashenko, the president.

    The Belarussian foreign ministry has reduced its diplomatic staff at its own embassy in Washington to six, including the ambassador, and ordered the expulsions after the US embassy in Minsk failed to follow suit.

    Sean McCormack, the US state department spokesman, said that the move was "unjustified and unwarranted".
    Washington and the EU have already imposed sanctions on Belarus, including a travel ban on Lukashenko over his imprisonment of political prisoners and restrictions on democratic freedoms. 

    Belarus previouly reduced its embassy staff in Wahsington from 32 to 17 in protest at the US sanctions whic hit the state-controlled oil and chemicals company Belneftekhim.

    Minsk says that the restrictions violate international law.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.