Some Belarus bigwigs are now out of a job, thanks to a bunch of teddy bears. President Alexander Lukashenko gave his country's air force and border guard service honchos the boot yesterday, naming them as the ones responsible for failing to stop a Swedish plane that dropped 879 teddy bears by parachute over the town of Ivyanets, near Minsik, on July 4. Swedish ad agency Studio Total says it was behind the drop, made in support of those opposing Lukashenko's "dictatorship." (To wit, the bears wore signs that read, "Belarus freedom.")
The Wall Street Journal reports that Lukashenko had earlier blasted the men's "bungling" for spotting but not intercepting the plane, which he clearly thinks they should have done. "How can you explain the provocation with the single-engine airplane, which not only crossed the border, but encroached on our territory unpunished? First and foremost, it’s a matter of our citizens' safety." The AP notes that the Swedes were aware that they could have been shot down: "We flew an airplane at 50 meters, that's 150 feet, for one and a half hours inside Belarus. It was a calculated risk and we thought we needed to take that risk ourselves. But we will not do it again tomorrow, if I put it that way."