Three Swedes behind the so-called “teddy bear” stunt in Belarus which is believed to have sparked a diplomatic row with Stockholm have been summoned to appear before the KGB, they said Saturday.
“We’ve received a document from the KGB … Three of us have been asked to appear before the KGB,” Tomas Mazetti, the co-founder of the advertising agency that orchestrated the stunt, told AFP.
Swedish activists illegally flew a plane into Belarus early last month and dropped hundreds of teddy bears attached to little parachutes carrying signs calling for freedom of speech and human rights.
Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko dismissed the country’s top border control official and the top air force commander after the incident.
Mazetti said the letter was not clear on what grounds the Swedes were being summoned, but his understanding was that they had been asked to appear as witnesses — not suspects — within 10 days, or be sentenced to four years labour.
“The letter refers to ‘refusal or avoidance of a victim or a witness to appear’, it doesn’t refer to suspects,” he said.
However, Mazetti said the Swedes were going to demand guarantees from the KGB before travelling to Minsk.
“We’re going to demand guarantees that the KGB does not indict us. They’ve said they would agree to that previously, but we want guarantees,” he said.
On August 3, Minsk expelled the Swedish ambassador to Belarus alleging he was trying to “destroy” ties with the ex-Soviet state, a move Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt conceded could be linked to the teddy bear incident.
Sweden retaliated, refusing to welcome a new ambassador to replace a new envoy who left the post several weeks ago, and withdrew residency permits for two Belarus diplomats who were asked to leave the Scandinavian country.
And on August 8, the spat escalated further when Minsk announced it was expelling all Swedish diplomats and closing its Stockholm mission.