Belarus leader fires foreign minister after Sweden row
MINSK - Agence France-Presse
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. AP photoBelarus strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko on Monday fired his foreign minister as part of a sweeping reshuffle that follows a diplomatic crisis in ties with Sweden after a pro-democracy stunt.
Lukashenko's office did not immediately explain the decision to replace Sergei Martynov with the powerful presidential administration chief Vladimir Makey.
An official biography states that Makey was born in 1958 and has served as an adviser to the president since 2000 after starting his career in the diplomatic service and eventually joining the foreign ministry.
He has headed the presidential administration since 2008 -- a post with sweeping powers because of Lukashenko's full control of both foreign and domestic affairs in the nation of 10 million.
Minsk had earlier this month expelled the Swedish ambassador and ordered all the country's diplomats to leave Belarus after a public relations firm from the Nordic country claimed to have conducted a protest teddy bears drop.
Lukashenko initially denied a breach of his Soviet nation's border and local rights groups said no actual teddy bears had been discovered at the claimed site.
Lukashenko at the end of July used the incident to fire the country's top border control official and air force commander for failing to protect the border.
The police also briefly jailed a Belarus blogger who posted the Swedish public relation firm's pictures of the alleged drop.