Swedish Aerial Novices Penetrate Belarus, Drop Teddy Bears
A Swedish advertising agency that freely admits charging ridiculously high amounts for its advertising, spent some of that money on an escapade over Belarus.
Flying a single engine plane on July 4, two members of the company who had learned to fly exclusively for that purpose, ventured into Belarussian airspace to parachute hundreds of teddy bears. The idea of bombarding with the teddy bears was received from dissidents in Belarus, who had stationed teddy bears carrying protest signs instead of humans who would face arrest under the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko.
Tomas Mazetti and Hannah Frey were the two daredevils. They feel that they could succeed in employing humor rather than brute force to make dictators look ridiculous. The derring-do was timed a day after Independence Day celebrations in Belarus, on the assumption that the military parade and the celebrations involving heavy drinking would guarantee that that the air defense system would not be at peak readiness.
At first, the teddy bear aerial intrusion was hushed up by the authorities, but yesterday the official newspaper Telegraf announced that Alexander Lukashenko had dismissed the chairman of the State Border Committee, Major General Igor Rachkovski, and the commander of air defense forces, Major General Dmitry Pahmelkin.
This, according to the paper, represented Lukashenko's honoring "his promise to punish the persons responsible for the illegal overflying Belarus that was carried out by Swedish plane on 4 July, 2012."
Other members of the top brass received reprimands or were cautioned about incompetence.
The authorities imprisoned a journalist who posted the bears on his website and a real estate agent who had rented an apartment to Swedish colleagues of Mazetti and Frey.
The official press tried to stir resentment against Sweden, reminding people of the 17th century Swedish invasion of the country.
This was followed by a bizarre accusation against the Swedish Ambasador to Minsk . "Very unusual is the figure of the Swedish Ambassador Mr. Eriksson, who speaks Belarusian language and actively uses it. This alone is a clear indication of increased interest of Sweden to Belarus."
Another accusation concerned the Eastern Partnership program of the EU, spearheaded by Poland and Sweden. Both feel that the Ukraine and Belarus should be drawn closer to Western Europe in order to wean them away from Putin. In the official press this is made to sound like a conspiracy.