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Belarus to close New York consulate ‘at US request’

Embassy of Belarus, DC (angela n./Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Belarus’s consulate in New York City will close on October 21 at the request of the United States, according to a statement posted on the consulate’s website.

Belarusian citizens residing in the consulate’s territory, which includes Canada, will have to contact the Belarusian Embassy in Washington for services, the notice from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.

The consulate has already stopped answering the phone and accepting and processing documents sent by mail. Since October 8 documents received have been transferred to the embassy. Access to the consulate will not be possible after October 15.

From October 17, U.S. citizens must obtain a visa to enter Belarus.

The moves come after the regime of authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka in August responded to the latest round of U.S. sanctions by requesting Washington reduce its embassy staff in Minsk to five people by September 1.

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatol Hlaz said then that Minsk had also revoked its consent to the appointment of Julie Fisher as the U.S. ambassador to Belarus.

Fisher, the first U.S. ambassador to Belarus since 2008, was confirmed by the Senate in December 2020 but has been unable to take up her post in Minsk because the Belarusian government has denied her a visa.

The U.S. Embassy in Belarus said blame for the deterioration in bilateral ties lay squarely with the Lukashenka regime, “and its inability to allow independent voices to emerge in Belarus as well as its unwillingness to meet its international commitments.”