February 10, 2021
In Belarus and around the world, United States diplomats — like diplomats from other countries — regularly attend local court proceedings, observe protests and demonstrations, and meet with members of opposition political parties and human rights defenders. United States diplomats do this especially in cases that touch on media freedom, other fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, all of which are, and have long been, of great importance. Belarusian diplomats in the United States are welcome to do the same; after all, there are political party representatives, trials, protests and human rights defenders in America as well. Diplomatic observation of local conditions and events is an accepted practice around the world.
The behavior toward a U.S. diplomat by one of Belarus’s state media outlets following his observation of a criminal trial in Minsk against Belsat journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Daria Chultsova on February 9 was unacceptable. The U.S. Embassy in Minsk stands ready to respond to press queries as they arise. The Belsat journalists have been accused of “organizing events seriously undermining public order,” charges which the United States, partner countries, and human rights organizations around the world have decried as outrageous.