Teddy bears spark Belarus diplomatic row

Aug. 10, 2012 at 1:59 PM

BRUSSELS, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- All EU ambassadors may be withdrawn from Belarus in a diplomatic row sparked when teddy bears promoting democracy were airdropped over the country.

As a consequence, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry withdrew its diplomatic staff from Stockholm and ordered the Swedish ambassador to leave, RIA Novosti reported.

A diplomatic source told the news agency the EU's Political and Security Committee could coordinate a withdrawal of all EU ambassadors from the country, where President Alexander Lukashenko is known for violent crackdowns on dissent.

Hundreds of the offending bears were dropped by a Swedish light plane July 4. They bore pro-democracy messages.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted Ambassador Stefan Eriksson had been expelled "for being too supportive of human rights."

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.

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