Belarus: Teddy Bears for Free Speech
The small former-Soviet republic Belarus is considered to be Europe’s last surviving dictatorship. Protestors and the political opposition arejailed. Journalists are harassed. But that doesn’t mean stories from that small, landlocked nation—or the dissidents trying to bring democracy and free speech there—get much airtime in the West. Last week the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total attempted to do something about the relative silence surrounding Belarus by staging a high profile, and highly dangerous stunt designed to draw attention to the issue from the outside.
The group flew a plane into Belarusian airpsace and unloaded more than a thousand parachute-strapped teddy bears over the village of Ivyanets and Minsk, the capitol. The toys glided to the ground with signs that read “We support the Belarusian struggle for free speech.” Afterward, the plane crossed the border for safety in Lithuania.