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Swedish Foreign Minister: Swedish government has nothing to do with teddy-bear stunt

Carlas Bildtas, Švedijos užsienio reikalų ministras
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs
Šaltinis: BNS

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says that Sweden's administration had nothing to do with the teddy-bear campaign in Belarus, adding that the unlawful flight across the Lithuanian border should be investigated by law-enforcement institutions.

"We have nothing to do with it, don't sanction and don't approve of it in any sort of way. I understand there are independent judicial inquiries underway. I leave that to the judiciary," Bildt told BNS on Tuesday.

The Swedish diplomacy chief, who is in Lithuania to attend a meeting of Nordic and Baltic ministers, said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's regime decided to expel his country's diplomats in the wake of the incident due to their activities to promote human rights.

"They have not been entirely happy with the stands that our ambassador in Minsk have taken in human rights and those sorts of issue. That's life. That speaks about the nature of the regime in the country," Bildt said.

He dismissed as “completely unacceptable“ the presence of political prisoners in Belarus, emphasizing Sweden's move to support democratic forces in Belarus.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis said Lithuanian and Swedish law-enforcement institutions were cooperating closely in the investigation of the teddy-bear campaign, saying more comment would be available after completion of the investigation into the crossing of the Lithuanian-Belarusian border.

"Our Prosecutor General's Office is carrying out an investigation. And we are cooperating with the colleagues from Sweden. And, first of all, we should wait for results of this investigation and just after that we should make any more concrete comments," Ažubalis said.

Swedish activists announced in July they had flown into the territory of Belarus and airdropped hundreds of teddy-bears with messages promoting the freedom of speech and human rights. Videos of the campaign soon appeared online.

The official Minsk initially denied the fact such a flight took place but later Lukashenko sacked the commander of the country's Air Force and threatened Lithuania with retaliatory actions.

Over a month after the reported flight, the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service launched an investigation, which is controlled by the Prosecutor General's Office.

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