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Belarus: OSCE Mission Chief Expelled

Munich, 3 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Belarus has ordered the head of its mission in Minsk to leave the country by midnight. He is the third OSCE diplomat to be barred from the country this year. An OSCE spokesman said Belarus today declined to extend the visa of the diplomat, Andrew Carpenter, whose visa expired on Saturday (1 June).

The OSCE had hoped Carpenter would be allowed to stay until mid-August, when his diplomatic accreditation expires. The spokesman said Carpenter will leave Minsk on the first available flight today.

The OSCE mission was sent to Belarus in February 1998 to assist authorities in developing a democratic system of government. The expulsions began after Belarusian authorities last year said they were dissatisfied with the activities of the mission and wanted to change its mandate.

The OSCE spokesman said there are now only two international staff members in Belarus.