Belarus' authoritarian president, Aleksandr
Lukashenko, plans to attend the final of the Euro 2012 football
championship in Kiev, according to a statement issued Wednesday by
the Belarus embassy in Ukraine.
Lukashenko is one of the first heads of state, aside from the leaders of host nations Poland and Ukraine, to announce plans to followe the game in persion at Kiev's Olympic Stadium on Sunday.
Several senior European Union officials in the run-up to the start of the tournament had said they would not travel to Ukraine to watch any games because of concerns over rule of law in the country.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a leading critic of President Viktor Yanukovych over the government's handling of opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, has since let it be known that she would travel to Ukraine and attend the final if Germany were to play in it.
Germany play a semi-final game against Italy on Thursday.
The possible boycott of Ukraine's share of Euro 2012 by European politicians has been an embarrassment for President Yanukovych and his regime, which has been hoping that the high-profile tournament will improve Ukraine's international reputation.
Lukashenko is isolated internationally for his regime's repression of opposition politicians and independent media, and because Belarus still uses the death penalty.
Lukashenko is banned from traveling to the E.U. because of human rights concerns in the former Soviet republic.
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