Updated at 17:11,20-07-2018

New head of OSCE Office in Minsk expected to be appointed this fall

A new head of the OSCE Office in Minsk is expected to be appointed this fall, Francois Vadim de Hartingh, the missions public affairs officer, told BelaPAN.

Mr. de Hartingh would not comment on media reports that Hans-Jochen Schmidt, the Offices current head, will leave the post before the expiry of his term. He noted that Mr. Schmidt may make a public statement on the matter next week.
Mr. de Hartingh said that Kazakh diplomat Zhandos Asanov had been appointed deputy head of the mission and would be introduced to the staff on September 8.

Mr. Schmidt has served as head of the OSCE Office in Minsk since February 2008.

The diplomat has faced sharp criticism from the Belarusian opposition over a German law experts controversial visit to the country.

Martin Fincke, a professor at Germanys University of Passau, stayed in Minsk in June at the invitation of the OSCE Office to give a professional opinion about a criminal case against three Vawkavysk businessmen.

In a report written as a result of the visit, the expert described the months-long detention of Mikalay Awtukhovich, Yury Lyavonaw and Uladzimir Asipenka as legal and denied any political motives behind the case.

Belarusian opposition politicians have condemned the visit and the experts conclusions, calling on the OSCE to investigate Mr. Schmidts role in it.