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Swedish diplomat attacked in Belarus

Swedish diplomat attacked in Belarus

Published: 23 Jun 2011 14:10 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Jun 2011 14:10 GMT+02:00

Sweden's top diplomat in Belarus was attacked by police at an anti-government protest in Minsk on Wednesday, prompting foreign minister Carl Bildt to summon the Belarussian ambassador.

David Emtestam, 31, was on hand to observe a demonstration in the Belarussian capital Minsk when he was attacked by several law enforcement officers.

"He was attacked by some sort of special police force and was kicked a number of times," foreign ministry spokesperson Tobias Nilsson told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Following the incident, Emtestam was eventually released when an ordinary police officer intervened.

A spokeswoman for Bildt said Emtestam was "kept at the site against his will for a little while and roughly handled" but was not taken away.

The violence meted out to Emtestam and other protestors, prompted a strong condemnation from Bildt, who has called the Belarussian ambassador in Stockholm into the foreign ministry for an explanation.

"We condemn the violence towards, and arrests of, peaceful demonstrators carried out by the Belarusian regime," Bildt said in a statement.

"Only yesterday evening, a Swedish diplomat in Minsk was also subjected to this violence. This is completely unacceptable and constitutes further confirmation of the country's lack of respect for fundamental democratic rights, a shortcoming that Sweden and the EU have clearly criticised on a great number of occasions."

Emtestam normally serves as the Swedish embassy's second in command, but as Ambassador Stefan Eriksson is currently on leave, he is the embassy's acting chargé d'affaires.

Emtestam was, according to Swedish media, observing the demonstration, in which around 3,000 people took part.

According to an AFP reporter in Minsk, at least 25 people, including many journalists, were arrested during the opposition demonstration that had been called for on social networks.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:01 June 23, 2011 by wenddiver
Is participating in a protest against the sitting government very Diplomatic?
15:48 June 23, 2011 by karex
There is a big difference between "participation" and "observation". Diplomats are not allowed to participate in anything as they must be impartial at all times, even when their countries of origin have taken an official stance one way or another. The official stance stands for an opinion, participation is not included.
16:49 June 23, 2011 by wenddiver
If you are mixed in with the demonstrators, so thoroughly that the riot police beat you up, I would guess your doing a little more than observing. Belorussia's government is dispicable, but you always have to look out for your own safety.
17:44 June 23, 2011 by rise
wenddiver why are you defending this, and this last dictatorship in Europe?
02:01 June 26, 2011 by wenddiver
@Rise-Not sure he's the last Dictator, but really jut hoping the People of he country will be allowed to lead their own Revolution without outside interference. It will take longer, but will be better for the country in the long run.
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