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Belarus, Latvia Expel Each Other's Diplomats Over Belarusian State Flag Incident in Riga

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Belarus flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.05.2021
MINSK (Sputnik) - Belarus is expelling the Latvian ambassador and other diplomats of the Baltic country over the incident with the Belarusian state flag in Riga, Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Riga Mayor Martins Stakis said that "a flag symbolizing a regime engaged in state terrorism does not belong in Riga" and city authorities replaced the Belarusian state flag with a red-white flag used by the Belarusian opposition.

"Today, the Latvian ambassador was invited to the Foreign Ministry in connection with an incident that took place some time ago In Riga and is connected with the insult of the state flag of Belarus. A strong protest was made to the ambassador in connection with this incident, he was clearly informed that this was a cynical violation of all norms of international law, in fact, an act of state vandalism," Makei told reporters.

The Belarusian side demanded Lativa to issue an apology and fly the Belarusian state flag again.

"The ambassador has been handed a corresponding note of protest. We cannot leave such provocative actions unanswered. Therefore, the ambassador was asked to leave Belarus within 24 hours, the entire diplomatic and administrative-technical staff were also asked to leave Belarus within 48 hours and leave one administrative and technical staff here to take care of the building," Makei added.

Latvia will respond in a reciprocal way to the expulsion of its ambassador and diplomats from Belarus, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"In response to the actions of Belarus, the Latvian Foreign Ministry summoned the charge d'affaires of Belarus to inform him about identical actions and the expulsion of Belarusian diplomats before the normalization of relations," the ministry said in a statement.

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