Former Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Martynov

From Reuters:  Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko sacked his foreign minister weeks after a diplomatic row with Sweden and the European Union over a pro-democracy stunt in which hundreds of teddy bears were air-dropped over the country.

Lukashenko’s office on Monday announced the dismissal of Sergei Martynov, who had held the post since 2003, without providing any reasons for the decision. Lukashenko named Vladimir Makei, previously his chief of staff, as the country’s new foreign minister.

Earlier this month, Belarus expelled Sweden’s ambassador after a plane chartered by a Swedish public relations firm dropped about 800 toy bears over the authoritarian country in July, each carrying a message urging the former Soviet republic to show greater respect for human rights.

Lukashenko sacked two generals, including the head of air defense, and told the incoming border guards chief to use weapons if necessary to shoot down any future foreign intruders into Belarussian air space.

From ABC News:  Vladimir Makei, the head of the presidential administration, replaces Sergei Martynov, who had been foreign minister for nine years. . . .

Makei, however, is also on the list of 243 Belarusians targeted by EU travel bans and asset freezes.  (photo: WSN)