Swedish Mission Teddybear Airdrop exclusive interview: ‘The Belarusian KGB can’t kidnap us’ (video)


On July, 4 hundreds of teddy bears carried in a plane piloted by two Swedes parachuted down on the Belarusian capital of Minsk and the town of Ivianets early morning in a show of support for the country’s pro-democracy movement. Swedish advertising agency Studio Total took responsibility for the action pointing out that sometimes they also use the money they earn to promote issues they find important, like treating all people the same, or the right to free speech.

The group called the mission ‘Teddybear Airdrop Minsk 2012’. Tomas Mazetti and Hannah Lina Frey took off from Pociunai, near Kaunas, Lithuania, and entered Belarusian airspace, proceeding over the town of Ivianets. The group then released 1,000 teddy bears holding cards and banners with protest slogans. The second airdrop was made over a southwest suburb of Minsk. When the Belarusian government denied that the incident had taken place, Studio Total released 90 minutes of footage of the flight.

They still hardly realise why journalist Anton Surapin and real estate agent Siarhei Basharymau were thrown into jail due to their teddy bear action, but regard Belarusians as the most people in Europe. Tomas Mazetti and Lina Karlsson from Studio Total told Belsat TV why they had organised the action and how it had affected their lives.

English subs:

{movie}Swedish Studio Total: The Belarusian KGB can’t kidnap us (ENG subs)|right|16452{/movie}

WHAT SITUATION ARE YOU IN NOW?

TM: ‘We have a witness protection program in Sweden, so we have our identities are hidden, we can’t reveal the details. It’s the Swedish police that have done so. And we should not talk exactly about what happens, they told us. For one reason or another, some mad person can start looking for us. That’s I think the main problem. Of course, I don’t think [the KGB] can’t kidnap us in Sweden.’

‘We wanted to do something peaceful. The man in charge [Lukashenka] thinks that he is protecting the country, he keeps it safe, his police and army are capable, Bit when it turns out that it is not so capable he looks weak. Before he steps down someone needs to show he is not so powerful. And we also wanted to draw the world’s attention, it was our main goal.’

3 PERSONS WERE JAILED. COULD YOU FORESEE THAT?

TM: ‘Anton … He had no connection with us. That could be any journalist, any person. That’s impossible to foresee. And the other guy… I don’t know exactly, he was involved somehow when one of us came to Belarus before to rent a house, I don’t know if it’s true. I’ve been to Belarus four times, ordered beer, rented a hotel room and car. If people start to arrest everyone that has been in contact with us it’s very hard to understand.’

WERE YOU AFRAID OF BEING SHOT DOWN?

TM: ‘I’ve never been afraid of almost anything. But I have kids, that’s why I made some calculations, but I was not really afraid. I think we can do it again it’s not really dangerous. The army is very old.’

WHEN WILL THE SWEDISH-BELARUSIAN RELATIONS NORMALISE?

TM: ‘Right now I don’t think anyone is interested in normalising [diplomatic relations]. Belarus has relations to a hundred of countries, the relation to Sweden is not really the issue. The issue is the man in power, how he is perceived globally and this was mainly a global campaign. Swedish magazines, newspapers, TV reported a little bit, but it is all over the world that focused [on the campaign]. We were not so interested in Sweden. It was a campaign for the whole world.’

DO YOU SUPPORT HOLDING HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP IN BELARUS?

TM: ‘You know it’s not really for me to decide … there are people even in jail that love hockey. I can’t argue with them and there are other people who really think it’s really bad. I would say if they go there at least they should protest that’s sort of what I would wish for.’

WOULD YOU COME TO BELARUS WITH YOUR CHILDREN?

TM: ‘Who knows what will happen. Nobody anticipated what would happen in Ukraine one year ago. It happens really fast. Build up something and everything changes. If things get better I would love to come to Belarus. It’s a great country, I like to be there and I like people there, its nature.’

WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF BELARUS?

LK: ‘When I came to Belarus for the first time, I was very surprised that the people were so friendly. I never experienced such friendliness in any country of Europe: people were talking to us, wondering where we are from, inviting us to them. What surprised me is that you cannot start talking about politics. People don’t want talk about anything like that. Just shut down. Minsk Is a very beautiful city. It is like Paris, but more friendly and nice ‘

3 PERSONS WERE JAILED. COULD YOU FORESEE THAT?

LK: ‘We didn’t plan anything like that. The expectations were that people would become more aware of this country, get to know it and the activists there will feel support of the rest of the world. That did happen. That’s [arrests] not we expected. People were jailed for some time, this was awful and speaks for how the regime is working. So, if one is jailed because od a teddy bear that’s crazy. And we need to tell the world about it.’

WHAT IS THE SWEDES’ ATTITUDE TO BELARUS?

LK: ‘Now a lot of people people know more about Belarus and would like to visit the country. Swedes might not be as welcome as before.’

DO YOU SUPPORT HOLDING HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP IN BELARUS?

LK: ‘When it comes to this sport event you are not allowed talk about politics, like it was in Russia’s Sochi during the Olympics games. There is a feeling of hollowness when all the people gathered can do is playing hockey.’

WHAT DID YOU FEEL BEFORE YOUR FRIENDS’ FLIGHT TO BELARUS?

LK: ‘I was very worried. But I also knew they were prepared to do this. They tool risks that they you exactly how dangerous it was. But we all respected what they were willing to do. We said goodbye and when they went away in the plane that feeling was not fun.’

Nastassia Yaumen

www.belsat.eu/en

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