Belarus expels Sweden's ambassador

Belarus has expelled Sweden's ambassador for being "too supportive of human rights", it has been claimed.

Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt said Sweden in turn has decided that the incoming Belarus ambassador will not be welcome. He also said two diplomats have been asked to leave the country.

Mr Bildt said Belarus' government, headed by President Alexander Lukashenko, got upset because the Swedish ambassador had met with the opposition in Minsk.

The expulsion comes weeks after a pair of Swedish activists used a plane to drop hundreds of teddy bears bearing messages supportive of human rights into Belarus territory.

Mr Lukashenko fired two generals over the incident. Mr Bildt, however, said there was no word that the teddy bear drop was linked to the expulsion.

Mr Bildt called the move "outrageous", adding: "This is a serious violation against the norms for relations between states."

He said the accusations against ambassador Stefan Eriksson were "ridiculous".

"The accusations lack substance," Mr Bildt said. "Basically this is about Sweden being active in advocating democracy and human rights in Belarus."

There was no immediate word from the Belarus government on the decision.