Career diplomat appointed new Belarus foreign minister
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday appointed a career diplomat to succeed the country’s foreign minister, whose sudden death last month triggered speculation about foul play.
Sergei Aleinik, 57, replaces the deceased Vladimir Makei, whose circumstances of death have not been made public by the authorities of Belarus.
Before his appointment, Aleinik served as first deputy foreign minister and represented Belarus in the United Nations, the Vatican and Great Britain.
Makei’s sudden death at age 64 triggered speculation because he leaned toward Western countries.
Some media and observers alleged — without offering evidence — that Makei could have been poisoned by security agencies of Belarus’ main ally Russia, which had warily watched Makei’s efforts to negotiate a rapprochement with the West.
Aleinik’s appointment may indicate Lukashenko’s desire to reduce Russia’s influence, said Pavel Latushko, an opposition leader who worked at the Belarus Foreign Ministry.
“Aleinik is completely devoted to the system, but at the same time he is the one who is inclined to establish some kind of communication with the West,” Latushko told The Associated Press. “The appointment of Aleinik may indicate Lukashenko’s desire to reduce Russia’s influence and increase communication with the West.”
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