Belarus restores ties with Sweden after teddy bear rift

May 22, 2018 - 3:44 pm

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarus has named a new ambassador to Sweden, turning the page on a six-year rift that followed a Swedish advertising agency's air drop of teddy bears bearing messages about human rights.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko emphasized the importance of ties with Sweden while naming the new ambassador. The envoy, Dmitry Mironchik, said Tuesday his appointment marks "the official end of the Ice Age in relations between Belarus and Sweden."

Belarus expelled the Swedish ambassador and recalled its envoy from Sweden after the Studio Total advertising agency air-dropped hundreds of parachute-wearing teddy bears holding the human rights messages. The July 2012 stunt came amid Western criticism of Belarus' rights record.

Ties between Belarus and the West have improved since Lukashenko's government released political prisoners and the U.S. and the European Union lifted some sanctions.

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