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U.S. 'Stands With Sweden' In Belarus Row

Teddy bears with pro-democracy messages were parachuted into the outskirts of Minsk from a light aircraft chartered by a Swedish public relations firm in early July.
The United States says it "stands with Sweden" in its efforts to promote human rights in Belarus, amid a spat that has led Minsk to close its Stockholm mission and expel all Swedish diplomats.

The U.S. State Department said on August 8 it was "deeply concerned" about the events, saying such actions "only serve to deepen Belarus' self-isolation."

Belarus withdrew its ambassador to Stockholm after Swedish activists last month flew a light aircraft in Belarus dropping hundreds of toy bears bearing pro-democracy messages.

Sweden's ambassador was also expelled.

On August 8, Minsk announced it was withdrawing its remaining embassy staff from Sweden and called on Stockholm to withdraw its diplomats from Minsk.

Belarus is under a raft of sanctions by the European Union over the repression of civil society and the opposition.

Based on reporting by AFP and