NEWS

Entry ban for Belarus minister

On the strength of a European Union decision yesterday, Athens said it would not allow a Belarus government official suspected of severe human rights abuses to enter Greece with his country’s Olympic sports contingent. But Belarus Sports Minister Yuri Sivakov said he would come anyway, rejecting the Greek government’s decision as «clumsy political games,» his spokesman, Anatoly Artemyev, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying. In April, the Council of Europe urged Belarus to investigate Sivakov’s possible involvement in the suspicious disappearances of four dissidents in 1999 and 2000, when he held the interior portfolio position. An EU statement issued in Brussels yesterday, following diplomatic contacts between the 25 member states, said Sivakov’s presence at the Games would be «completely inappropriate.» In Athens, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said Sivakov would be refused entry. Artemyev, however, said Sivakov would gain entry to Greece on the basis of his existing Olympic accreditation.