Hundreds of pro-free speech teddy bears carried in a plane piloted by two Swedes parachuted down on the Belarusian capital of Minsk early Wednesday morning in a show of support for the country’s pro-democracy movement, Swedish news resources Aftonbladet and The lokal report.
“As far as I can tell, the mission was a complete success,” one of the plane’s Swedish pilots told The Local following the alleged subversive and high-risk show of solidarity.
“There’s no democracy without free speech,” the pilot, who wished to remain anonymous due to security concerns, said. “Everything that’s worth fighting for is hard. There is a price to pay. If we could do something over drinks in Sweden, that would be great, but it wouldn’t have the same effect.”
He admitted as well that there was a risk the plane would be forced down – or possibly shot down – by the Belarusian military. “We could end up in prison,” he said.
Despite the dangers involved in flying an aircraft into Belarus without authorization and then flying over the capital at low altitudes, one of the pilots emphasized that the Belarusian citizens living under Lukashenka’s regime must deal with much greater dangers on a daily basis.
Using an airplane may seem brave, but living in Belarus takes even more courage, the pilot believes. “Think of living in a country where your family and friends could be arrested or it could happen to you at any time,” he said.
Organizers claim the audacious stunt began in earnest when the small plane loaded with teddy bears took off from neighbouring Lithuania under cover of darkness early Wednesday morning on a mission to drop its pro-free speech cargo over the presidential palace in Minsk.
The belarusian Ministry of Defence has rebuted the data. “The have been no illegal border-crossing flights over the last day. All aircrafts’ ways have been traced,” the MD press office says.