Heads are rolling in the repressive country of Belarus because of teddy bears.
A Swedish public-relations firm air-dropped cuddly bear-chuters bearing messages promoting free speech and democracy from a plane on July 4. On July 13, the Belarusian KGB threw photographer Anton Surapin, a 20-year-old student at Belarus State University's journalism school, in prison for posting photos of the bears online. Also in trouble is a landlord who allegedly rented an apartment to at least one Swedish participant in the stunt and is charged with aiding "an organized group" in illegally crossing the Belarusian state line, according to Radio Free Europe:
The Swedish public-relations firm Studio Total says it dropped 1,000 teddy bears carrying political slogans over the Belarusian town of Ivyanets, near the Lithuanian border. The company, which has released a 90-minute video of the plane's flight from Lithuania to prove its claim, says the firm's cofounder, Per Cromwell, was on the ground in Ivyanets at the time of the drop.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene told charter97.org on July 17 that no aircraft crossed that country's airspace into Belarus on July 4. But the Baltic News Agency on July 5 reported a Lithuanian army source as saying that an aircraft had been observed crossing the border on the previous day.
"We cannot say whether this is connected with the incident reported by the media," the unnamed military source said.
Belarus finally confirmed that bears, indeed, invaded the country. "This plane was discovered in time, but why didn't the senior officials stop the flight?" asked President Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting. "Where did the fault lie? In these bungling officials or some error in the airspace control system?"
So whose heads roll now? Lukashenko, aka Europe's Last Dictator, today fired two military officials in connection with the incident. The president's office announced that the chairman of the State Border Guard Committee, Major General Ihar Rachkovski, and the commander of the country's air forces, Major General Dzmitry Pakhmelkin, were released from their posts for "improperly carrying out their duties."