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article imageBelarus teddy-bear controversy heats up

By Martin Laine     Jul 20, 2012 in Politics
Belarus officials have arrested at least one other person in connection with the July 4 free-speech teddy-bear drop, still insisting it was a hoax. Meanwhile, the mastermind behind the stunt called the country’s president “an armed clown."
Chapter 97, a pro-democracy group in Belarus, has reported that a real-estate agent, Syarhei Basharymau, was first reported missing on July 7. It has since been learned that he has been detained for his role in the incident. Anton Suryapin, a journalist who first posted pictures of the teddy bears, was arrested on July 13. On July 17, it was announced that his detention has been extended for another 11 days.
Basharymau reportedly rented an apartment to a group of Swedes involved in the teddy-bear drop.
At the same time, the official response from the Belarus government has been to deny that the incident ever happened, according to an article on the Radio-Free Europe website. They claim that a video of the incident, released by the Swedish PR firm Studio Total, is a fake.
In an open letter to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Per Cromwell, founder of Studio Total, said that neither of the detained men had any prior knowledge of the teddy-bear drop. He wrote “Studio Total never told Anton Suryapin or indeed any other Belarus citizen in advance about what we planned to do.”
Cromwell described the country’s air defense system as “a brutal, but severely malfunctioning mechanism, best suited for parades and for harassing civilians.”
Mocking them, Cromwell pointed out that it was powerless to stop a homemade airplane carrying a cargo of teddy-bears from crossing into its air space and making the air drop.
He went on to say “in the long run, not even a heavily armed clown can stop the people from laughing.”
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