The journalist was arrested 10 days ago, on July 13. However, he is still being kept in the KGB predetention centre (“Amerykanka”) without any charge having been served on him.
In accordance with Article 108 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, one may wait for filing charges up to 20 days in case of being suspected of committing an especially grave crime. But it is noteworthy that “aiding a group of persons in illegal border crossing” is not the case.
Alena Surapina is still in the dark about the son’s future. On July 24 she arrived in Minsk to meet up with Anton’s defence lawyer and pay his services.
According to experts, letting the detainee stand may signify opening another criminal case and consequently, extending the deadline of filing charges.
Other three persons involved in the teddy bear stunt case
On July 17 Charter’97 reported that the KGB had detained Siarhei Basharymau, an estate agent, 11 days before. The Swedes taking part in the daring action were to rent a flat with his help but then the reservation was cancelled via SMS. Basharymau is allegedly accused of “aiding a group of persons in illegal border crossing”. Now he is facing up to seven years of imprisonment.
On July 19 the KGB was believed to arrest 16-year-old girl for implication in teddy bear stunt. According to unverified information, Katsiaryna Skurat took pictures of Swedish teddies and sent them to photographer Anton Surapin. Then it became known that the girl turned out to be at liberty: KGB officials had only questioned Katsiaryna in the presence of her parents.
On July 22 a word leaked out that Iryna Lagoyka, Basharymau’s girlfriend had also been detained. Having spent a day in “Amerykanka” she was freed. But KGB servicemen “forgot” to inform Iryna of the fact that her laptop, pendrives and other electronic materials had been seized.
The KGB Centre for Information and Public Relations stays mum on both the detentions and everything concerning the teddy bear troop drop. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense rebuted the information. Top officials called the video released online “fabricated”.
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.
“Studio Total never told Anton Surapin or indeed any other Belarus citizen in advance about what we planned to do. We love (respect) and admire them too much to expose them to such risks. It was easy to find all we needed to know about Belarusian air defence on the internet (Wikipedia), and the description was the same everywhere: a brutal, but severely malfunctioning mechanism, best suited for parades and for harassing civilians,” the Swedes wrote in their open letter to president Aliaksandr Lukashenka.
They also promised him to come and tell everything about the operation under condition that he would “promise not to torture some innocent passer-by.”