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Belarus: Senior officials sacked over teddy bear stunt

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Belarus: Senior officials sacked over teddy bear stunt
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Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has sacked two senior officials, after a plane dropped hundreds of teddy bears over the hardline state in a pro-democracy stunt.

The aircraft, chartered by a Swedish public relations company, released toys which carried a message calling for Belarus to show greater respect for human rights.

The country’s air defence chief, Dmitry Pakhmelkin, and the head of border guards, Igor Rachkovsky, were both fired for failing to intercept the flight.

In a statement, the presidential press service said they had been dismissed “for not properly carrying out their duties in safeguarding Belarussian national security.”

The plane crossed into Belarussian air space from Lithuania on 4 July and dropped the bears near the town of Ivenets.