Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hadn't they heard?

"They" being the Belarusian government.

I was on bed rest, hoping and praying that my three babies were settling in for a long nine months. My RE had said to reduce stress, relax, treat myself like I was at the spa and given me three days of bed rest. Well, apparently "they" hadn't heard, or rather, didn't care.

"They" told the U.S. government to reduce embassy staff from 34 to 17. Yes, HALF of the Americans would be leaving the country. So now we waited for "the list". Who would be staying, who would be going? I went back to hoping and praying that we would be allowed to stay. I liked living there. We had great friends, both American and local. We were finally feeling "settled in". I really liked my RE. Plus, I had two embryos on ice and couldn't stand the idea of leaving without them.

So much for reducing stress...

Belarus seeks staff cuts in U.S. embassy
Mon Mar 17, 2008
MINSK (Reuters) - Belarus has asked the United States to cut staff at its embassy in Minsk, a week after Washington's envoy temporarily left the former-Soviet state which the U.S. and European Union says violates human rights.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said a U.S. diplomat from the embassy had been called in and told of the "urgent recommendation from the Belarussian side that the U.S. embassy in Minsk reduce its number of personnel".

The ministry did not give a reason for this demand.

Ambassador Karen Stewart's departure last Tuesday followed two requests that she leave Belarus over what Minsk called new U.S. sanctions against national oil products firm Belneftekhim.

Last year the U.S. ordered its citizens not to deal with the company and said no new action had been taken since.

U.S. officials said Stewart's departure was for consultations only, and that she remained ambassador to Belarus. Minsk last week also recalled its envoy from Washington.

The United States and the European Union accuse President Alexander Lukashenko of shutting down independent media, jailing opponents and rigging polls, such as his re-election to a third term in 2006. Neither allow him and some officials entry.

Since a dispute with Russia last year, however, Lukashenko has tried to improve ties with the West and courts have released several opposition activists -- moves cautiously welcomed by the EU.

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