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France’s ambassador ‘ordered out of Belarus,’ leaves before Monday deadline – reports

AFP’s Sunday evening report said that Ambassador Nicolas de Bouillane de Lacoste has already departed from Minsk, and that the Belarusian authorities had set an October 18 deadline for his departure. 

The agency cited a French embassy spokesman, who said that the envoy sent his goodbyes to the staff before leaving, but also recorded a “video message addressing the Belarusian people,” which is said to be scheduled to appear on Monday.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the envoy’s purported expulsion and, so far, the Belarusian government has made no official statement on the matter.

The purported expulsion, however, came just days after the ambassador hosted several representatives of the recently-banned Belarusian NGO ‘Govori Pravdu’ (‘Tell the Truth’) in the embassy. On Wednesday, the envoy met the NGO members, including its co-leader Andrey Dmitriev, one of the candidates in last year’s controversial presidential election.

Paris and Minsk have been at odds since August 2020, after Paris, alongside other EU nations and the US, refused to recognize the results of presidential election won by the long-term Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Instead, Paris courted Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. She visited France back in September, meeting top officials including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The French ambassador had personally shown disrespect to President Lukashenko. The diplomat, who assumed his post last year, skipped the presentation of credentials ceremony, in which newly-appointed envoys meet a nation’s leader. Instead, he proceeded to give copies of his credentials to Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey.

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