Belarus recalls EU envoy to protest sanctions
(MINSK) - Belarus on Tuesday recalled its EU ambassador for consultations in protest over a new raft of sanctions imposed by Brussels over President Alexander Lukashenko's human rights record.
The ex-Soviet republic also took the unusual move of advising the EU and Polish ambassadors to Minsk to return to their capitals to relay Lukashenko's strong disagreement to their political leaderships.
"The permanent Belarus representative at the European Union and the ambassador in Poland have been recalled to Minsk for consultations," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Poland, which has led the campaign within the European Union to impose sanctions on Belarus, has emerged as one of Lukashenko's top foes.
The statement added: "The head of the EU representative office and the Polish ambassador to Belarus have also been invited to travel to their capitals for consultations."
Belarus gave no indication that the two ambassadors were being permanently expelled.
European affairs ministers on Monday agreed an assets freeze and visa ban against 21 senior officials -- 19 magistrates and two highly placed police officers -- who were deemed involved in moves to stifle the opposition.
The 19 will be added to 210 people already black-listed over the continuing repression of civil society by Lukashenko's regime.
The European Union in the past has also frozen the assets of three entities linked to the regime, while exports to Belarus of arms and materials that might be used for internal repression are prohibited.
Many Belarusians have fled to neighbouring Poland in recent years, some lobbying Warsaw over conditions back home.
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