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Lukashenka Strips Diplomatic Status Of Three Belarusian Officials Who Supported Protesters

Paval Latushka has been relieved of his diplomatic rank.

MINSK -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has stripped the diplomatic status of two ambassadors who openly supported ongoing public protests challenging official results of a presidential election they say was rigged to hand the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office.

The presidential press service said that Paval Latushka and Ihar Lyashchenya had been relieved of their diplomatic rank in decrees signed on September 16 because of the two diplomats' "misconduct."

Lyashchenya resigned from the post of the Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia on August 18, two days after he publicly supported the anti-Lukashenka rallies sweeping across Belarus following the August 9 election.

Latushka, who served as Belarusian ambassador to Poland, France, UNESCO, and Spain between 2002-2019, was part of the opposition's Coordination Council.

While neither are currently serving as ambassadors, both still had diplomatic status.

According to the presidential press service, Lukashenka also sacked and removed the diplomatic rank of Belarusian Ambassador to Latvia Vasil Markovich "for failing to properly carry out his duties."

In recent days, the Latvian Foreign Ministry summoned Markovich over Lukashenka's public statements, saying that the ongoing protests in Belarus are being financially supported by countries including Latvia.

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