2 Aug 2012

Generals sacked after teddy bear stunt

1:00 pm on 2 August 2012

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has sacked his air force and border security chiefs after a Swedish light plane dropped teddy bears into the country with labels calling for freedom.

The plane, chartered by a Studio Total, a Swedish public relations firm, dropped hundreds of the little teddy bears near the town of Ivenets and on the outskirts of the capital Minsk. It crossed into Belarusian air space from Lithuania.

The bears came down with little parachutes and had labels calling for freedom of speech and human rights.

The incident happened on 4 July.

An official statement from the president's office on Tuesday said State Border Committee chairman, Major General Igor Rachkovsky, and Air Defence Commander Major General Dmitry Pakhmelkin had been dismissed for failing in their duties.

The BBC reports two men are under arrest on suspicion of aiding and abetting the stunt. If found guilty they could face up to seven years in prison.