3rd Feb 2023

Belarus ends work with British PR firm

London-based public relations firm the Bell Pottinger Group has ended its EU advocacy work for Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

"We had a 12 month contract from last August and it has expired," company chairman Timothy Bell told EUobserver on Tuesday (18 August).

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  • The Bastion Tower: a Chime offshoot had an office on the edge of the EU quarter (Photo: Wikipedia)

Mr Bell, who personally handled the Lukashenko account, declined to give further details.

Speculation in Belarus media circles is that the autocratic president decided he can do a better job himself without relying on advice from Western experts.

Mr Bell, in a previous interview with EUobserver, described Belarus as a country that "has a perfectly nice atmosphere about it." He said Belarusian authorities are "very hospitable, very pleasant to be with."

The Bell Pottinger Group did most of its Lukashenko work out of London. But it also used a small office in the Bastion Tower in Brussels, on the edge of the EU quarter.

The PR company steered Mr Lukashenko to give interviews to the Finacial Times and to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Mr Bell also praised the Belarusian president for posing with his young son, Kolya, in official photos.

The past 12 months has seen a warming-up of EU-Belarus relations as Brussels tries to extract Minsk from Moscow's influence.

The EU in October 2008 suspended a visa ban on Mr Lukashenko and 35 of his officials. The president in April visited Rome and the Vatican. He was also invited to an EU summit in Prague in May but opted not to go.

Mr Bell, a member of the House of Lords, is well-known in the UK for his PR work for former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. He currently advises exiled Russian media baron, Boris Berezovsky, who is a personal friend of Mr Lukashenko.

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