KIEV, September 11. /TASS/. Kiev has sent a note of protest to Minsk after the Ukrainian ambassador Igor Kizim’s car was searched by Belarusian border guards, the UNN agency said on Friday, citing the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
“Immediately after the incident with the search of the Ukrainian ambassador’s car in Belarus, Ukraine sent a note to the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Belarus, demanding explanations and assessments of Belarusian border guards’ actions,” the agency said. According to diplomats, Kiev views this action against Ukraine’s ambassador to Belarus as “unfriendly.”
“Ukraine retains the right to respond in kind after this incident,” the Foreign Ministry added.
Earlier, Kizim said that border guards violated international law by searching his car at a Belarusian border crossing point when he was returning from Kiev.
In the meantime, Belarus’ State Border Committee said that border guards had inspected neither the ambassador’s car nor his luggage. According to them, their inspection of the vehicle was “part of the border control procedure in conformity with Article 27 of the Law on State Border of the Republic of Belarus.” Therefore, according to Belarus’ version, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which say about inviolability of diplomatic and consular bags, were not violated.
Kizim returned to Minsk after consultations at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. On August 17 the Ukrainian ambassador was recalled from Minsk in the wake of protests following the Belarusian presidential election. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that it was decided to hold consultations and to “evaluate prospects for the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations in new reality.”
It was Kiev’s first such step in relations with Minsk, and it had been caused by Minsk’s handover to Moscow of 32 Russians detained in Belarus in late July. Kuleba emphasized that it was done “in spite of all legal and ethical grounds to hand them to Ukraine.” Kiev subsequently suspended official political contacts with Minsk referring to the situation in that country.
Belarus held its presidential election on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission’s data, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.10% of the vote, whereas Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was considered to be his key rival, garnered 10.12% of the ballot. Subsequently, she refused to recognize the outcome of the polls. After the results of exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests flared up in downtown Minsk and other cities. In the early days they were accompanied by clashes between protesters and police. The authorities call for an end to illegal rallies, while the Coordination Council set up by the opposition demands more protests.