Monday, August 06, 2012

Air intruders must be shot down, Belarus leader says


 (Reuters) - Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, smarting after a pro-democracy stunt in which teddy bears were dropped into Belarus, told his new border guards chief on Thursday to use weapons to stop any more unlawful air intrusions by foreigners. 

 About 800 toy bears were dropped near the town of Ivenets from a light aircraft, chartered by a Swedish public relations firm, which crossed into Belarussian air space from Lithuania on July 4, the day after Belarus marked independence day.

Each bear carried a message urging the hardline former Soviet republic to show greater respect for human rights.

Lukashenko told incoming border guards head Alexander Boyechko, whom he appointed after sacking his predecessor on Tuesday over the bears incident: "Unlawful violations of state borders must not be allowed.

"They must be stopped by all force and means, including weapons, regardless of anything. The border guards must prove their loyalty to the fatherland," he said.

As well as sacking Boyechko's predecessor, Lukashenko also dismissed the air defense chief and reprimanded senior state security officials.

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