Tallinn will not hoist red and white Belarusian flag

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The historic red and white Belarusian flag flying in Riga, Latvia on May 24. Source: Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tallinn will not follow Riga and Vilnius and fly the historic red and white Belarusian flag, the city council has said.

The red and white flag is used by members of the opposition as a symbol of resistance to dictator Alexander Lukashenko instead of the national green and red flag.

Spokesperson Kati Niin told ERR News on Thursday: "No, the city of Tallinn will not hoist the Belarusian flag so as not to interfere in foreign policy."  

On Monday, following the forced diversion of a Ryanair plane flying through Belarusian airspace from Greece to Lithuania and the arrest of a journalist and his girlfriend, Riga flew the red and white flag in solidarity.

Riga City Council and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics removed the green and red flag and replaced it with the red and white flag. Belarusian flags are currently flying in the capital due to the World Ice Hockey Championship which is taking place in the Latvian capital.

In response, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said the Latvian ambassador to Minsk, Einars Semanis, must leave Belarus within 24 hours. Latvia told the Belarusian Ambassador to Latvia that reciprocal measures will occur including the expulsion of Belarusian diplomats "until a time when the relationship returns to normal", national broadcaster LSM reported.

In solidarity with the Belarusian opposition and Latvia, Vilnius Municipality raised the red and white Belarusian flag outside their office on Tuesday. The flag was raised in place of Vilnius' municipal flag on Europos Square, Lithuanian broadcaster LRT wrote.

The governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have often coordinated their responses to Belarus in recent months.

The red and white Belarusian flag flying outside the Vilnius Municipality head office. Source: Saulius Žiūra.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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