Belarusian Border Guard Jailed For Teddy-Bear Air Drop

February 18, 2013

A Belarusian border guard has received two years in prison for failing to report last year's illegal border crossing by a Swedish plane that dropped stuffed bears with pro-democracy messages.

The Belarusian Supreme Court said on February 18 that the officer will serve his prison term in a maximum-security correctional facility.

Last summer, a Swedish advertising agency said it was inspired by Belarusian pro-democracy activists, who carried teddy bears with protest slogans, and hired a plane to drop similar stuffed animals over Belarus.

The plane entered Belarusian air space from neighboring Lithuania and dropped hundreds of teddy bears before safely returning to Sweden.

The incident led to the expulsion of Swedish diplomats from Belarus and to tensions between Minsk and Vilnius.

Belarus's air-defense chief and the head of the border-guard service were dismissed after the incursion.

Based on reporting by Bepalan and Interfax