Saturday, 4 August 2012

Teddy bear paratroopers for freedom

Here's a nice news story I didn't hear about at the time. Back on 4 July a Swedish PR firm protested the dictatorship in Belarus:
Hundreds of pro-free speech teddy bears carried in a plane piloted by Swedes parachuted down on the Belarusian capital of Minsk early Wednesday morning in a show of support for the country's pro-democracy movement, according to a Swedish PR agency behind the stunt. (Read more at the
A journalist who reported on the event was arrested, as was a man who simply let a flat to one of the Swedish team who was on the ground to film the event:
Suryapin, who was among the first to publish pictures of teddy bears reportedly dropped from a Studio Total-piloted aircraft over the Belarusian town of Ivyanets, was arrested on Friday, July 13th by Belarusian security service KGB.

He remains in KGB detention on suspicions of helping foreigners to enter Belarus illegally – a charge that carries a sentence of three to five years in prison, prompting calls for his immediate release from Reporters Without Borders.

Meanwhile, reports also emerged this week about the detention of Basharymau, an estate agent who went missing on July 7th, just three days following the Studio Total teddy bear drop.

According to Charter 97, a news website associated with the Belarusian opposition, Basharymau has been detained by the KBG for allegedly renting a flat in Minsk to the Swedes. (Read more at the
The Belarusian government tried to deny the event took place, but:
After weeks of denial, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has admitted that a light airplane crossed into the country's airspace on July 4th, reported to have been piloted by a Swedish PR firm in a pro-democracy stunt. (Read more, also at the
Of course heads had to roll in the government:
On Tuesday, Belarus's president, Alexander Lukashenko, fired two of his top generals after a single-engine airplane piloted by two Swedish advertising executives managed to breach the country's air defenses and bombarded the suburbs of Minsk with teddy bears carrying messages in support of free speech. (Read more at Foreign Policy, including an interview with the Swedes)
And it is of course a diplomatic incident as well:
Belarus has announced that it has expelled the Swedish ambassador for alleged contact with opposition groups, a decision described by Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt as "outrageous".(More at the
 Bravo Studio Total of Sweden.

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