March 17, 1997
STATEMENT BY MEMBERS OF THE BELARUSIAN SOROS FOUNDATIONíS ADVISORY BOARD
When returning from a business trip on March 16, 1996, the Belarusian Soros Foundationís executive director Peter Byrne was refused entry into the Republic of Belarus by the authorities. Advisory Board chairman Sergey Levshunov who was returning with him was told by the head of the border guards division, Lieutenant-Colonel Lutskevich, that the decision was made by "competent" bodies in accordance with the law governing the legal situation of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the Republic of Belarus. However, Lieutenant-Colonel Lutskevich refused to state exactly which bodies had made this decision.
We feel it necessary to remark that ever since the incident occurred, Mr.†Peter Byrne has been in strict solitary confinement. Neither Advisory Board members, nor a US Embassy representative were permitted to see him, even though he is a US citizen. It is also unclear which department the persons detaining him belong to.
We are hereby expressing our confusion at the actions of the Belarusian authorities. Given the current situation, we feel it essential to state that apart from this unjustified discrediting of the Belarusian Soros Foundationís executive director, these actions by the authorities will lead to the Belarusian Soros Foundationís humanitarian aid distribution work being disrupted. In 1996 alone, this aid amounted to US $5.7 million.
The Advisory Board members would like be sure that common sense will triumph in this case, and hope that Mr.†Byrne will be able to return to his duties.
Advisory Board members :
S.†Levshunov (Advisory Board chairman)
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