Belarus Fires Generals After Illegal Swedish Flight Over Minsk

Belorussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko fired the border-guard and air-force chiefs after Swedish pilots illegally flew a small airplane from Lithuania to Belarus this month.

Major General Igor Rachkovskiy, chairman of the Border Committee, and Major General Dmitry Pakhmelkin, Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Force commander, were dismissed “for failing to fulfill their duties in ensuring national security,” the presidential press service said today in an e-mailed statement.

A group of Swedish citizens illegally flew a small plane from Lithuania to Belarus on July 4, dropping teddy-bear toys with signs calling for free speech over the capital, Minsk, Lukashenko told a meeting of military and border-guard officials last week. The pilots were able to return to a Lithuanian airport without being intercepted and posted video footage of their flight on the Internet.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aliaksandr Kudrytski in Minsk, Belarus at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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