22 January 2018, Monday, 3:21

Lukashenka appoints Maltsaw as new border control chief

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on November 2 dismissed Alyaksandr Bayechka from the position of head of the State Border Committee, appointing Leanid Maltsaw as his successor.

General Maltsaw, 64, has left the position of the Security Council’s state secretary to take the new job. He was Belarus’ defense minister between October 1995 and November 1996 and between March 2001 and December 2009.

Colonel Bayechka was appointed head of the State Border Committee in August 2012. He succeeded Ihar Rachkowski, who had been fired over a drop of teddy bears from a foreign plane the previous month.

On July 4, 2012, a single-engine plane piloted by representatives of Sweden’s public relations agency Studio Total invaded Belarus' airspace and dropped hundreds of teddy bears with "pro-free speech" signs on the town of Ivyanets and Minsk before flying back to Lithuania unhindered. Experts said that the stunt exposed flaws in Belarus’ air defenses.

The reason for Mr. Bayechka’s dismissal was not immediately clear. Some reports link it to October’s crash of an aircraft in Ukraine, which was subsequently found to have been successfully used to smuggle cigarettes from Belarus.