VILNIUS, January 16 - RAPSI. The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office decided to ask the Swedish authorities to continue the criminal investigation into the Swedish plane that illegally crossed the border and dropped teddy bears over Belarus, the office reported on Wednesday.

A diplomatic scandal ensued after the teddy bears labeled in support of free speech were thrown out of the Swedish plane that illegally entered Belarusian airspace in July.
Belarus appealed to Lithuania and Sweden for legal assistance to investigate the case.

The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office has announced that it completed the prejudicial inquiry.

In early January, the prosecutors pinpointed two individuals as suspects in the case.

The office forwarded the case materials and the request for Sweden to continue the criminal investigation to the Lithuanian Justice Ministry. The request will then be forwarded for consideration to the Swedish Justice.

After the incident, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry decided not to extend Swedish Ambassador Stefan Ericsson's accreditation in the country.

Stockholm considered the move to be equivalent to his expulsion, and in return expelled the Belarusian ambassador in Sweden. Belarus then closed its embassy in Stockholm and proposed that Sweden do the same with its embassy in Minsk.

Investigators looking into the matter found that a Belarusian border guard unit had detected the plane when it illegally crossed the border from Lithuania.

"The unit passed the information onto the Subbotniki border post, which is part of the squad responsible for protecting the border," the Lithuanian Investigative Committee reported. "However, the individual on duty did not report the issue to the units officer in violation of the established procedure.

"Thus, the Belarusian air defense units were not placed on high alert and did not detect the aircraft or prevent it from crossing the border, the committee said.
As a result, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko dismissed State Border Committee Chairman Igor Rachkovsky and Air Force and Air Defense Commander Dmitry Pakhmelkin.

A number of military officials were also rebuked and officially reprimanded.

The Belarusian State Security Agency initiated a criminal case on the incident.