Updated at 14:13,22-06-2018

Kubilius: Lithuanian authorities had nothing to do with teddy bear stunt


The Lithuanian authorities were not involved in any way with the drop of teddy bears over Belarus last month, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius told reporters in Vilnius on Tuesday.

The teddy bear stunt, which angered Minsk so much, appears to have been carried out by citizens of Sweden on their own initiative, he said.

Mr. Kubilius expressed hope that investigators would put all unanswered questions to rest and promised that Lithuania would help Belarus investigate the incident in accordance with an interstate agreement on legal assistance.

"In this case, it is necessary to separate flights in Lithuania`s airspace, which are carried out in accordance with established rules, the issue of whether or not they were violated, and what happened in the neighboring country," he noted.

Mr. Kubilius refused to comment on Alyaksandr Lukashenka`s allegation that Lithuania had played a role in the teddy bear stunt and his threat that "the response [to Lithuania] won`t seem to be weak."

"I don`t evaluate such statements because I think that we`re neighbors," Mr. Kubilius said. "Neighbors can deal with common issues without such statements."

Two representatives of Sweden`s advertising agency Studio Total illegally flew a small plane from Lithuania to Belarus on July 4 and dropped hundreds of parachute-wearing teddy bears that carried pro-human rights messages on the small city of Ivyanets and Minsk`s outskirts before flying back to Lithuania unhindered.

Speaking to reporters on August 9, Mr. Lukashenka accused the Swedish embassy of involvement in the stunt.

"When we began to investigate—and the ambassador shouldn`t fidget and claim that he is defending democracy here—[it turned out that] those who had come and made preparations for the violation of the border had worked together with the embassy," Mr. Lukashenka said. "We have evidence of this. Investigators have produced it."

He warned that Lithuania should not "sit like mice under the broom." "They should tell us why they provided their territory for the violation of the state border," he said. "To Lithuania, if anyone, the response won`t seem to be weak."

The Swedish foreign ministry dismissed Mr. Lukashenka`s allegations, insisting that neither the ministry not the Swedish embassy in Minsk had had anything to do with the incident.