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Published: 7 september 2012 15:41

Lithuanian President on teddy-bear incident: International commitments must be met

Dalia Grybauskaitė
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Dalia Grybauskaitė

Commenting on Belarus' legal assistance request in investigating the teddy-bear incident, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Friday international commitments should be fulfilled, but prosecutors should decide on the form and extent of the assistance.

"Lithuania is a democratic country governed by the rule of law, and all international commitments have to be fulfilled, in one way or another. The form, extent, and ways of meeting international commitments are a direct responsibility, and law enforcement institutions will make the decision. In this specific case prosecutors are carrying out the investigation," the president told reporters.

Belarus has sent a legal assistance request to the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office, asking for help in investigating a border violation on 4 July when Swedish activists flew into the territory of Belarus from Lithuania and airdropped hundreds of teddy bears with messages promoting freedom of speech and human rights.

Lithuanian institutions said after the incident they had not been informed about the Swedish flight but also did not initially record a border violation. The Belarusian authorities at first denied the fact such a flight took place. But after less than a month, President Alexander Lukashenko sacked the commander of the country's Air Force and threatened Lithuania with retaliatory actions. Belarus also ordered the Swedish ambassador out of the country.

Lithuanian law enforcement launched a pre-trial investigation on 14 August. The investigation is carried out by Lithuania's State Border Guard Service and directed by the Prosecutor General's Office.

Prosecutors have so far refused to say if they would provide legal assistance to Belarus.

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