Per Cromwell, the founder of Studio Total and one of the pilots who dropped around 1000 teddy bears with pro free-speech banners over Belarus on July 4, addressed Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka with the open letter published on late night, July 18.
In the letter, Per Cromwell expresses his concern over KGB arresting a web-journalism student Anton Surapin who was the first to publish the photos of teddy bears on the Internet. Presently, Anton is accused of assisting to cross the state boarder — the crime that may be punished with up to 7 years’ imprisonment term.
The full text of the letter:
Last Friday, you had KGB arrest student Anton Surapin for publishing pictures of the teddy bears Studio Total dropped over Belarus. Since then, Surapin has been incarcerated in KGB head quarters, with no possibility of contact with the outside world, and with no formal accusation directed against him. Therefore, we want to make the following facts very clear:
Studio Total never told Anton Suryapin or indeed any other Belarus citizen in advance about what we planned to do. We love (respect) and admire them too much to expose them to such risks. It was easy to find all we needed to know about Belarusian air defence on the internet (Wikipedia), and the description was the same everywhere: a brutal, but severely malfunctioning mechanism, best suited for parades and for harassing civilians.
Yes, we knew that you had ordered the shooting down of an air balloon that had drifted across the border into Belarus, thereby killing two innocent people. We also know that you regularly order assaults on innocent journalists, students and members of the opposition, as well as having them imprisoned. All this is indeed signs of weakness and fear.
Recently, you announced that you, personally, guaranteed the effectiveness of the Belarus defence. You have spent 20 billion of Euros on an air defence system that could not detect a homebuilt airplane with a cargo of teddy bears. As Paviel Kazlouski, the former Belarus minister of defence, expressed: You lead a regime that puts all its energy into pretending that the patient is healthy, but none into curing her.
Reports in Russian media – which you dare not censor – have caused many people to laugh at you. On the internet, you are described as a clown. But we are not naive. You are something much more frightening – an armed clown. Though in the long run, not even a heavily armed clown can stop people from laughing. And when people laugh at you, not even your friends will want to stick around.
Our advice to you is this: pull yourself together, before it is too late. Use some of the financial resources you're spending on the KGB and military parades to help the nation out of its financial crisis. More importantly. be less politically active. Perhaps you could play a little more hockey? They tell us you are quite good at that! And wouldn't it feel good to win without cheating, for a change? You are the leader of a fantastic people. They deserve change.
But If you absolutely must jail and abuse people – why not invite us? After all, we were the ones who flew the plane, not some poor guy who happened to sell us chocolate. We promise you to come and answer all your questions and tell you everything about the operation. How we flew, how we cheated your air-defence systems and so on. All you need to do is to promise not to torture some innocent passer-by, in your frustration.
Or maybe we should just fly by some day? In good time for your hockey world cup, for example?