Russian President Vladimir Putin takes a boat trip with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, to Russia on Saturday. Photo: VCG
The French ambassador to Belarus left the country after authorities in Minsk asked him to leave by Monday, the embassy said. Belarusian authorities asked the ambassador to leave.
But according to information published in the Belarusian media, Ambassador Nicolas de Lacoste was expelled because he never met President Alexander Lukashenko to give him copies of his credentials.
Instead, he handed them over to Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, according to the French Embassy. Lukashenko, according to reports in Belarusian media, took this as a snub.
“The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has demanded that the ambassador leave before October 18,” the embassy spokeswoman told AFP.
“He said goodbye to the embassy staff and recorded a video message to the Belarusian people, which will appear tomorrow morning on the embassy’s website. “
France, like other EU countries, has not recognized Lukashenko’s claim for a sixth presidential term in the contested August 2020 elections.
The EU and the US have imposed waves of sanctions on the Belarusian strongman government after the country erupted in historic protests against his regime.
But the 67-year-old leader, who has accused Western governments of instigating protests in the hope of fomenting a revolution, has so far resisted sanctions with the backing of his ally and creditor Moscow.