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English

No low-flying planes invaded Belarus this week, says State Border Committee spokesman

 

No low-flying planes have invaded Belarus’ airspace in the last couple of days, Alyaksandr Tsishchanka, spokesman for the State Border Committee, told BelaPAN on Thursday.

“We cannot confirm that any violations of the airspace took place,” said Mr. Tsishchanka.

Every border unit has a duty to monitor the airspace and is equipped with special devices, he noted.

On Wednesday morning, Swedish public relations firm Studio Total, known for high-profile and sometimes deceptive publicity stunts, claimed that it had dropped hundreds of teddy bears holding miniature signs “We support the Belarusian struggle for free speech” on Belarus in a show of support for the country`s pro-democracy movement. The teddy bears were parachuted from a plane piloted by Swedes who took off in neighboring Lithuania, it said.

Later in the day, the firm released two videos that it said show the stunt taking place, according to Sweden`s news site The Local.

One video, allegedly shot from the ground in the town of Ivyanets, shows a small, single engine Jodel aircraft cruising in over the city, located some 50 kilometers west of Minsk.

Several small objects with what appear to be parachutes can be seen floating down from the plane over the city with its landmark Church of Saint Euphrosyne clearly visible in the video, according to The Local.

The other video was allegedly made by one of the pilots during the flight.

The Belarusian Ministry of Defense issued a statement to deny the report. It said that no planes had entered the country illegally over the last two days. Referring to experts who it said had examined the videos, the ministry described them as a crude fake of “a clearly provocative nature.”

Other experts say that the video shot from the ground can be real, but it is not clear when it was made. They also suggest that the plane may have been brought into Belarus across the Russian border, where there are no border controls, disassembled to be assembled here for the flight, disassembled again and transported back to Russia. But if the plane took off in Lithuania as claimed by the organizers of the stunt, it violated the airspace of not only Belarus but also NATO, the experts say. //BelaPAN

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