Today Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs David A. Merkel, who is on a visit in Belarus, is to meet with representatives of democratic political parties, civil society and former political prisoners. The visit of the diplomat to Belarus is connected to release of political prisoners Alyaksandr Kazulin, Syarhei Parsyukevich and Andrei Kim.
Today David A. Merkel will meet with the leader of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov, a former political prisoner, a former candidate for presidency in Belarus Alyaksandr Kazulin, the leader of the United Democratic party Anatol Lyabedzka, a deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front Vintsuk Vyachorka, the leader of the Communist Party of Belarus Syarhei Kalyakin, the chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Narodnaya Hramada) Mikalay Statkevich, leaders of human rights and public associations.
Yesterday, as we have informed, David Merkel met with the Foreign Minister of Belarus Syarhei Martynau. The press-service of the Foreign Ministry of Belarus does not reveal details of the meeting of Martynau with Merkel.
“The whole range of Belarusian-American relations was discussed during the meeting. The interlocutors have also discussed the ways and steps for improvement of these relations,” that’s all the press-service told about the meeting.
Relations of Belarus with the US and the EU were tense over the last years. The US charged the Belarusian leadership with human rights violations in the country many times. Denial to release political prisoners was one of the reasons for imposing economic sanctions by the US.
In November the US imposed sanctions against Belneftekhim concern’s enterprises. In particular, the sanctions provide freezing of any bank accounts of these entities that are within US jurisdiction and Belneftekhim representative offices in Germany, Latvia, the Ukraine, Russia, and China, and its wholly-owned US subsidiary Belneftekhim USA, Inc.
According to the guidance to the sanctions issued in March 2008, the sanctions were also extended to the entities, where Belneftekhim has direct or indirect income of at least 50 per cent.
After the official site of the US Treasury published explanations to the sanctions imposed against Belneftekhim concern, Belarusian Ambassador to the US M. Khvastou was recalled from Washington for consultations. On March 12 on demand of Belarusian authorities as a retaliatory step K. Stewart left Belarus. After the number of Belarusian Embassy staff in the US was cut down, and considering of applications for visas was suspended. Now 4 US diplomats work in the US Embassy in Minsk.