Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has sacked two of the nation’s top defense officials after two Swedish advertising agency employees piloted a light plane into the country’s heavily guarded airspace, dropping 879 teddy bears decked out in parachutes and slogans supporting human rights.
Officials in the ex-Soviet state denied the July 4 incident until Lukashenko called a meeting last week to scold authorities for allowing such a “provocation.”
The Belarusian ruler nicknamed “Europe’s last dictator” on Tuesday fired the nation’s air defense chief and the head of the Border Guards service and reprimanded several other top security officials, his office said Wednesday.
Thomas Mazetti and Hannah Frey, the two Swedes behind the stunt, said they wanted to show support for Belarusian human rights activists and embarrass the country’s military, a pillar of Lukashenko’s power.
Now Belarus has ordered Sweden to close its embassy in Minsk by the end of the month.
One can only hope one of those Teddy bears fell into the hands of Lukashenko’s anointed successor: his seven-year-old son Mikalai.