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Belarus military acknowledge violation of airspace by Swedish plane

August 15, 2012, 12:06 UTC+3
The incident in question occurred on July 4
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MINSK, August 15 (Itar-Tass) — The Belarussian Defense Ministry officially acknowledged the fact of violation of the republic's airspace by a Swedish plane, a month after the incident.

"The Ministry was checking the information about the unsanctioned flight over the territory of Belarus by a Swedish plane throughout July 2012; it was also investigating the incident. It reconstructed all the details of the incident, and found the circumstances of the illegal crossing of the state border of the republic of Belarus by an organized group," the Ministry's press service said in a statement on Wednesday.

"At present, a set of measures is being taken to enhance the readiness of the Air Force and air defense troops to respond to such incidents. To this end, the Air Force increased the intensity of warplanes' flights. Vanward air defense units of the western operation/tactical command of the Air Force and Air Defense troops arrived at firing ranges of the Russian Federation to hold an operation/tactical drill with live shooting," the press service said.

The incident in question occurred on July 4. On that day, a small plane with two Swedish citizens invaded the Belarusian airspace from Lithuania without permission. The aircraft flew unhindered to the small town of Ivenets and then to Minsk. It remained in Belarussian airspace almost 90 minutes and safely retreated beyond the border. The plane parachuted several hundred teddy bears with slogans in support of democratic processes in the republic.

At that time, the Belarussian military called the Internet videos confirming the unsanctioned flight by an unknown foreign plane over the country "a provocation and bungle."

The Defense Ministry stated there were "no facts confirming the crossing of the state border of the Republic of Belarus in airspace."

However, in early August, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko relieved the chairman of the State Border Committee and his first deputy of their duties. He also fired the Air Force and Air Defense Troops chiefs.

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