President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has removed Ambassador to Latvia Vasily Markovich from office and removed the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to two more diplomats, Pavel Latsko and Igor Leshchen, the president’s press service said on Wednesday evening.
Markovičs has been relieved of the post of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Latvia, and he has also been deprived of the diplomatic rank “for proper non-performance of official duties”.
Latoshko and Leshcheng have lost their diplomatic rank “in connection with offenses that embarrass the state (diplomatic) service”.
On August 18, Markovich was summoned to the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he received a note of protest in connection with the detention of Latvian citizens, as well as requested explanations about Lukashenko’s statements that the protests in Belarus were being funded, including from Latvia. At the end of August, it also became known that Lukashenko’s visit to Riga, which was planned for April, had been “removed from the agenda”. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs (JV) explained this with the events in Belarus and the fact that Latvia and other European Union countries do not recognize the results of the presidential elections in Belarus.
Latuško was the ambassador to France from 2012 to 2019. He then ran the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater in Minsk, but was fired after condemning the violence of demonstrators by force and demanding a legal assessment of the actions. After Latashko joined the opposition Coordinating Council, Lukashenko said he had “crossed the red line” and would “answer by law.”
The former ambassador to Slovakia, Leščen, expressed support for the protesters following the presidential election and called on the authorities to investigate all cases of torture and beatings of demonstrators. He then resigned, and Lukashenko signed a decree dismissing Lechchen at the end of August.