Posted: 1:01 am EDT
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Not quite the entire embassy but close enough. Four of our six diplomats and an FS spouse assigned to the U.S. Embassy Minsk in Belarus recently participated in the clean up of Islach River near the capital city in honor of Earth Day. Correct us if we’re wrong but this is probably the smallest U.S. embassy we have with a staff of only six American employees. Why?
Due to restrictions imposed unilaterally by the Belarusian Government in 2008 on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Minsk, the American Embassy was forced to reduce its staff from 35 to five diplomats as well as withdraw its Ambassador. The number of U.S. diplomats was later increased to six in July 2014. The imposed reduction in staff has greatly impeded the Embassy’s ability to carry out mutually beneficial diplomatic programs and activities, including cultural and educational exchanges, assistance programs, and visa services.
When U.S. Government officials make temporary visits to Minsk, host-country authorities require that an equivalent number of permanent American staff members leave the country to maintain the six-person limit. Can you imagine if OBO must send a three-member team for repairs? That would require half the permanent staff to leave post and make way for the repair staff.
Embassy Minsk chargé d’affaires Scott M. Rauland arrived in Minsk to assume duties as head of the U.S. Embassy to Belarus on June 30, 2014.
The chargé d’affaires is the only officer with no formal additional functional duties; however, he acts as backup political/economic officer, press officer, and backup public diplomacy officer. The political/economic officer is also the de facto deputy chief of mission (DCM), press officer, and backup consular officer. The management officer also functions as the post security officer, human resources officer, financial management officer, general services officer, facilities maintenance officer, backup information management officer (IMO), medical liaison, occupational health and safety officer, and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) contact. The public affairs officer spends a quarter of her time as the embassy’s sole consular officer. The IMO serves as backup financial management officer.