FACT CHECK: State Department’s Belarus Warning Not New

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A post shared on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, claims that the State Department issued a warning for U.S. citizens to leave Belarus for the first time a few days before Wagner leader Yevengy Prigozhin’s death.

Verdict: Misleading

The State Department has been warning U.S. citizens to leave Belarus since February 2022.

Fact Check:

Prigozhin was killed when his plane crashed near Moscow, according to The Washington Post. Russian investigators said that they confirmed his death with DNA, the outlet reported.

Social media users have been claiming that the State Department called on U.S. citizens to leave Belarus “for the first time.”

“It’s worth remembering that the U.S. State Department for the first time called on its citizens to immediately leave Belarus just 2 days ago. The U.S. intelligence agencies might have picked up some chatter and knew that Wagner turmoil might take place in Belarus,” one tweet reads.

This claim, however, is highly misleading. It is true that the U.S. Embassy in Belarus advised American citizens to leave the country on Aug. 21, two days before Prigozhin’s death, according to Radio Free Liberty/Free Europe. The embassy also issued the warning in April 2023, the outlet reported.

The State Department advised American citizens to leave Belarus after Russia invaded Ukraine. (RELATED: Pentagon Claims Last Time U.S. Used Cluster Munitions Was In 2003)

“On February 28, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of U.S. government employees and the suspension of operations of the U.S. Embassy in Minsk. All consular services, routine and emergency, are suspended until further notice. U.S. citizens in Belarus who require consular services should try to leave the country as soon as possible and contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in another country,” the State Department wrote.

A State Department spokesperson told Check Your Fact in an email that it has “advised U.S. citizens to depart Belarus since February 2022.”

“We take seriously our commitment to providing U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions. U.S. embassies and consulates abroad issue Alerts to notify U.S. citizens of specific events and changes happening locally, in real time. Alerts follow an easy-to-understand format that permits quick release of the information to the public,” the spokesperson said.

Misinformation following the death of Prigozhin has circulated widely on social media. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim suggesting the Wagner Group had assassinated the Russian Defense Minister.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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