On January 31, the State Department issued a Level 4-Do Not Travel advisory for Belarus. It also announced the “ordered departure” of family members of USG employees from Belarus. Ordered departure is a mandatory evacuation order. Excerpt below:
Do not Travel to Belarus due to the arbitrary enforcement of laws, the risk of detention, and unusual and concerning Russian military buildup along Belarus’ border with Ukraine. Reconsider travel due to COVID-19 and related entry restrictions.
On January 31, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees.
Due to an increase in unusual and concerning Russian military activity near the border with Ukraine, U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to Belarus should be aware that the situation is unpredictable and there is heightened tension in the region. On January 23, 2022, the Department of State also authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees (USDH) and ordered the departure of eligible family members (EFM) from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. Potential harassment targeted specifically at foreigners is also possible. Given the heightened volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling to Belarus.
The U.S. government’s ability to provide routine or emergency services to U.S. citizens in Belarus is already severely limited due to Belarusian government limitations on U.S. Embassy staffing.
Read the full announcement here.
In June 2021, the Belarus Foreign Ministry summoned the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Minsk and informed him of retaliatory measures against the United States. The measures included the reduction of the diplomatic and administrative-technical personnel of the American diplomatic mission, the tightening of visa procedures, the limitation of the work of American specialists in Belarus on a temporary basis. The government also revoked the work permit for USAID.
In 2008, the Belarusian Government imposed restrictions on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Minsk, and the State Department was forced to reduce its embassy staff from 35 to five diplomats as well as withdraw the U.S. Ambassador. The number of U.S. diplomats was later increased to six in July 2014. The current CDA Ruben Harutunian assumed his duties as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk on May 24, 2021.
In April 2020, with improved relations with the dictator in Belarus, the Trump Administration announced the nomination of career diplomat Julie Fisher as the first U.S. Ambassador to Minsk since 2008. She was confirmed in December 2020. It April 2021, Ambassador Fischer was reported to temporarily reside in Lithuania as she was not granted a visa to travel to Minsk. Her official bio at US Embassy Minsk says she was refused a visa by the Belarus authorities, and she relocated to Lithuania in October 2021. She currently holds the title of U.S. Special Envoy for Belarus, a position with ambassadorial rank.
Chargé d’Affaires Ruben Harutunian joined other diplomats in laying flowers at the Yama memorial in Minsk today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. About 800,000 Jews were murdered in Belarus starting in 1941. pic.twitter.com/99Dul9YrIY
— U.S. Embassy Minsk (@USEmbBy) January 27, 2022
The regime in Minsk reached a tragic milestone and holds over 1,000 political prisoners. After 27 years the truth voiced by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is inescapable: Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty. pic.twitter.com/Y01ISSSsLO
— Julie Fisher (@USAmbBelarus) January 27, 2022
Belarusian government officials charged with aircraft piracy for diverting Ryanair flight 4978 to arrest dissident journalist in may 2021https://t.co/lvNRVzotfq
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) January 20, 2022
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