Minister sacked after teddy affair

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sacked his Foreign Minister yesterday, weeks after a diplomatic row with Sweden and the EU over a pro-democracy stunt in which hundreds of teddy bears were air-dropped over the country.

Mr Lukashenko's office announced the dismissal of Sergei Martynov, 59, but gave no reasons. Vladimir Makei, previously Mr Lukashenko's chief of staff, will be the new Foreign Minister.

Earlier this month, Belarus expelled Sweden's ambassador after a plane chartered by a Swedish PR firm dropped about 800 toy bears over Belarus, each carrying a human rights message.