Hungary has admitted that it granted a special visa for a Belarusian official expelled from the Czech Republic.
The Hungarian foreign ministry confirmed to Euronews it had been issued to Vladimir Bazanov, the president of the Belarusian football federation.
Bazanov and his wife were reportedly detained by Czech authorities last week, accused of illegally entering the EU member state without permission. They were later released from police custody and ordered to leave the country.
The 64-year-old had travelled to Opava for a Women’s Football World Cup qualifying match between Belarus and the Czech Republic.
But Bazanov was detained on suspicion of entering the Czech Republic without proper documents and violating the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
Bazanov — an ally of Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko — has been sanctioned by the European Union.
On Thursday, Hungary’s foreign ministry confirmed that it had given Bazanov a 90-day Schengen visa on the basis of an invitation from UEFA in Switzerland.
“The visa was issued on behalf of Switzerland by the competent Hungarian consulate acting as a visa representation on 21 May 2021. Prior to issuing the visa, Switzerland issued the document required for entry to the persons concerned due to COVID restrictions.”
“Hungary complies with all Schengen requirements when issuing Schengen visas,” the spokesperson added.
“It is not possible for a visa to be issued to a person who is on the common list of the Schengen Member States of banned persons at the moment of issuing the visa.”
Swiss authorities have not commented on whether the visa was issued by Hungary on their behalf.
The EU recently imposed new sanctions on Belarus over the influx of migrants into the bloc via Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek had previously warned that Bazanov would be expelled from the country if he showed up for the match.
“The supporters of dictator Lukashenko are not welcomed in the Czech Republic,” Jan Bartosek, deputy speaker of the Czech parliament’s lower house, added on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the match between the Czech Republic and Belarus was postponed after three visiting players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Three other Belarusian players were forced to isolate as close contacts, meaning the team could not field enough players.