U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has visited Belarus, receiving an enthusiastic welcome from its autocratic leader who has faced Western criticism over the nation’s democratic record.
John Bolton met Thursday with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the nation of 10 million with an iron hand for a quarter century, showing little tolerance to dissent and independent media.
The U.S. and the European Union have continuously criticized Belarus for its crackdown on the opposition and flawed elections and introduced sanctions against Lukashenko’s government. Some of those penalties have been lifted in recent years as Lukashenko, who was once dubbed Europe’s last dictator, has sought to improve his nation’s rights record.
Russia is Belarus’ main sponsor and ally, but the two nations have a slew of trade disputes.