Belarus Foils Ring Smuggling Parrots

MINSK -- Border guards in Belarus said Wednesday that they had foiled an attempt to smuggle 277 parrots into the former Soviet state -- aboard a bicycle.

The smuggler abandoned his bicycle and feathered cargo -- contained in six cages -- and fled back over the border into Ukraine when confronted late Tuesday at the crossing point of Dubki, border guard spokesman Alexander Tishchenko said.

"The cages were fixed to an ordinary bicycle. The parrots were stuffed inside like sardines, 40 to 50 to a cage," Tishchenko said.

"You can imagine what it was like. This was sheer barbarism."

Two birds had died while the others were kept overnight at the border post. They were then handed over to veterinary inspectors with the eventual aim of offering them to pet shops in the country.

Belarussian border guards last year detained a 19-year-old Russian man trying to dig his way under the border into Poland using nothing more than a mug.