Belarus expels Sweden`s ambassador
DHAKA: Belarus has expelled Sweden`s ambassador over his country`s involvement in activities seeking to promote democracy in the former Soviet republic, Sweden`s foreign minister Carl Bildt said.
Bildt said Friday`s expulsion of Stefan Eriksson followed accusations by Belarus’s president against the diplomat.
"The [Alexander] Lukashenko regime in Belarus has decided to expel our ambassador," Bildt told reporters. "They have made accusations against the ambassador. They are groundless. Fundamentally, this is about Sweden being engaged in democracy and human rights in Belarus."
Bildt said Belarus` incoming ambassador to Sweden would not be welcome and that two more Belarussian diplomats in Sweden had been asked to leave.
He said Belarus had quoted meetings by Eriksson with the Belarussian opposition as one reason for expelling him. Another was donating books on human rights to a university library in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
"So, it`s ridiculous accusations," Bildt said.
A plane chartered by a Swedish public relations firm dropped hundreds of teddy bears over Belarus on July 4 in a pro-democracy stunt, prompting President Alexander Lukashenko to sack his air defence chief and the head of the border guards.
In Minsk, Andrei Savinykh, the foreign ministry, spokesman said the Swedish ambassador had not been expelled, but his accreditation had not been extended.
"Mr. Eriksson has worked in Minsk for seven years. In this time his activity has been directed not at strengthening Belarussian-Swedish relations but at destroying them," he told the Reuters news agency by telephone.
Source: 0845 HRS, AUG 4, 2012