March 17, 1997

Press statement of the Belarusian official news agency BelTA

US citizen Peter George Byrne, executive director of the Belarusian Soros Foundation, was refused entry into the Republic of Belarus by "competent" bodies at Minsk-2 airport, in accordance with Article 20, Paragraph 3 of the Belarusian law governing the legal situation of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the Republic of Belarus.

The main socio-political information department of the presidential administration stated that the grounds for this decision were Mr. Byrne’s activities, which were deemed incompatible with his status in the Republic of Belarus, that of a foreign citizen.

This was confirmed by Mr. Byrne’s repeated violations of the legislation of the host country. This includes the fact that he, a representative of a non-political non-governmental organisation, personally took part in illegal mass meetings held in Minsk. This can only be construed as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

The measures implemented regarding US citizen Mr. Byrne should not be considered as an act intended to hinder the activities of the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) and the Belarusian Soros Foundation in the Republic of Belarus, since they are non-governmental organisations which provide humanitarian aid for our country, the report reads.

BelTA

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