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Political scientist: Overdue teddy bear investigation now looks like giving in to public pressure

Politologas T.Janeliūnas
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Tomas Janeliūnas
Šaltinis: BNS
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Lithuanian political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas says the decision by the country's law enforcement to launch a pre-trial investigation into the Swedish teddy bear stunt last month is overdue and now looks like a result of public pressure.

The comments by the associate professor of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University follow a statement by the Prosecutor General's Office earlier in the day that the country's State Border Guard Service had launched a pre-trial investigation into illegal crossing of the Lithuanian-Belorussian border.

"The investigation should have been started much earlier following initial suspicions that a violation might have happened. And now this decisions looks like a result of public pressure," the political scientist told BNS on Thursday.

This whole story is very inconsistent, if we bear in mind the time Lithuanian institutions needed to acknowledge the fact that the border was indeed violated.

Janeliūnas believes the overdue decision reflects negligent attitude of Lithuanian institutions to, he believes, serious reports.

"In general, this whole story is very inconsistent, if we bear in mind the time Lithuanian institutions needed to acknowledge the fact that the border was indeed violated. And they launched the investigation only now when they have nowhere to hide. And persistent claims that nothing happened look absolutely ridiculous. Of course, this whole story raises many fairly serious questions on the work of the State Border Guard Service, the Civil Aviation Administration and many other services which in one way or another are to blame for having missed this incident," he said.

According to Janeliūnas, an investigation should have been opened soon after the Swedes' statement on the stunt.

"No doubt, if certain rules and laws are broken, there should be launched an investigation. Just the fact that the Swedes themselves were the first to announce and acknowledge that such an incident did take place, that should have been enough to start some investigation immediately after 4 July," Janeliūnas said.

Swedish activists announced last month they had flown into the territory of Belarus on 4 July and airdropped hundreds of teddy bears with attached messages promoting the freedom of speech and human rights.

The Belorussian authorities initially 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 ordered the Swedish ambassador out of the country. Belarus also officially sent a legal assistance request to the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office asking for help in investigating the incident.

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office said on Thursday an investigation into illegal state border crossing and violation of international flight rules has been launched.

BNS
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