Belarus president sacks foreign minister

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko at parade in Minsk, 3 Jul 12 President Lukashenko has a high degree of control over foreign policy

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Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has sacked his foreign minister - the third high-level dismissal since a diplomatic row with Sweden this month.

Mr Lukashenko's head of administration Vladimir Makey replaces Sergei Martynov. Mr Makey is among dozens of Belarus officials on an EU blacklist.

The list, which includes Mr Lukashenko himself, bars travel to the EU and freezes assets held in European banks.

Western sanctions were imposed on Belarus because of human rights abuses.

Unlike Mr Makey, Mr Martynov was not on the blacklist.

According to a Belarusian political analyst, Roman Yakovlevsky, the appointment suggests there will be no relaxation in the tension between Minsk and the EU.

Three weeks ago, Mr Lukashenko forced his air defence commander and his border security chief to resign, after Swedish human rights activists flew into Belarusian airspace to drop hundreds of teddy bears carrying pro-democracy messages.

Belarus also expelled Sweden's ambassador because of the row.

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