Sunday, August 5, 2012

No Teddy Bear's Picnic as Sweden, Belarus at Odds Over Airdrop of Stuffies Bearing Democracy Message

Sweden and Belarus are locked in a diplomatic war over hundreds of cute, fuzzy teddy bears — a threat so menacing that two Belarusan generals have been fired and the countries have rejected each other's ambassadors. 
The strife over the stuffies began July 4 — which is also Belarus' Independence Day.

A light plane flew over Minsk from Sweden and dropped 879 teddy bears, which carried pro-democracy messages. Sweden has long been open about its desire to see democracy take root in Belarus, a former Soviet republic led by a Soviet-style strongman, Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus didn't publicly acknowledge the airdrop until last week, when Lukashenko criticized military authorities for allowing the plane to enter Belarusan air space and carry out its "provocation."

After that, action was swift: Lukashenko fired the generals in charge of air defense and the border patrol Tuesday, and authorities arrested two civilians — a journalism student who put pictures of the teddy bears on his website and a property manager who offered an apartment to the plane's Swedish pilots, two pro-democracy advertising agents...  
Swedes dropping teddies on Belarus? Big whoop. Now, if they'd been brave enough to send a bunch of pro-democracy bears--one or more of them named Muhammed--into Sudan, that would indeed be something.

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