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Belarus: Missing Ambassador to Japan to Return Home

Tokyo, 2 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Belarus's former ambassador to Japan has denied reports that he has been planning to defect. Pyotr Kravchenko was last month removed from his post on orders from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka but refused to return home immediately.

Reports say Kravchenko visited the Japanese Foreign Ministry today and said he intends to return to Belarus. But the reports also say Kravchenko has stopped short of saying when he will go home.

Kravchenko served as Belarus's foreign minister in the early 1990s before Lukashenka became president. He was named ambassador to Japan four years ago.

Reports say Kravchenko has recently become critical of Lukashenka's rule.