On Monday, a year after the election, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new penalties on Belarus
Belarus on Wednesday ordered the United States to reduce its embassy staff after Washington imposed a fresh round of sanctions on the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.
"The American side was suggested to reduce the number of staff in its Minsk embassy to five people by September 1," foreign ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said in a statement.
He said it was a response to "impudent and openly hostile actions" from the US.
He also said Belarus had revoked consent for the appointment of the US ambassador -- career diplomat Julie Fisher, who in December was confirmed as the first US envoy to the ex-Soviet country since 2008 but was still awaiting her visa.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Fisher and the personnel of the US embassy in Minsk would "continue to support the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus" including by engaging with "leaders of the pro-democracy movement."
Western governments including the United States have slapped Belarus with several sets of sanctions over the regime's crackdown on dissent that began when protests erupted across the country following a disputed election last year.
Belarusians took to the streets demanding the resignation of 66-year-old strongman Lukashenko, who has ruled for nearly three decades and claimed to have won another presidential term in the polls last August.
On Monday, a year after the election, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new penalties on Belarus.
Among the targets was the Belarusian National Olympic Committee, headed by Lukashenko's son, which was accused of participating in an attempt to force a sprinter home from the Tokyo Olympics.
Belarus has also been in the international spotlight over the suspicious death of a Belarusian activist in Ukraine last week and the forced landing of a European flight to arrest a dissident in May.
But despite the growing pressure, Lukashenko's regime remains unfazed, still able to rely on the backing of Russia.
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