Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Studio Total refuses to come to Minsk for questioning


Representatives of Sweden's public relations agency Studio Total have refused to come to Minsk to be questioned in connection with July's illegal flight over Belarus and drop of teddy bears on its territory.

"Firstly, the invitation from the KGB only tells us to come to Minsk 'within 10 days' or we'll 'face two years correctional work,' but it doesn't say why we are summoned," Studio Total says in an open letter to Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

"Secondly, we have the question of where we should meet," Studio Total says. "We'd planned on the Swedish embassy. Neutral ground, diplomatic immunity, all that. Then, in a sudden spat of bad temper, you deported our ambassador and shut down the embassy. Again Alexander [Alyaksandr]- it's ok! Everyone can have a bad day. But then you changed the meeting place to KGB headquarters- "Amerikanka" as the Belarusians call it. We do not want to fuss, but to change the location from the cozy back garden of an embassy to a concrete bunker where people have been tortured for a hundred years does not seem a fair replacement."

"Thirdly there is the issue of our demand for immunity," Studio Total says. "Your response to this has been that we shall be treated with the 'same justice that KGB treats all suspects, witnesses and victims.' Might we guess that is your sense of humor? Anyway it sure sounds funny to assure to be treated at all by a police force that is ranked as Europe's most corrupt and brutal by organizations such as Amnesty International."

"Fourthly, and this is actually sort of serious, we have received a number of threatening mails and phone calls in recent days," Studio Total says. "There has been hacking attacks on our email system and all the trails lead to…the KGB. Of course, again, you will think what's the problem? Isn't that normal procedure to threaten or torture someone when they badmouth the dictator? Yet however crazy this might seem, this is all new to us. In Sweden the police are not allowed to threaten, kill or torture people. To sum it up, all these small issues have made us lose our appetite to come and visit you."
As an alternative, Studio Total invites Mr. Lukashenka to come to Sweden himself. "Studio Total hereby proudly invites the Dictator Aleksander Lukashenko [Lukashenka] to our house in Skane, Sweden,"
the letter says. "We will arrange and pay for lodging, food, taxis and all that. We will also, as we promised, tell you everything you want to know on how to cheat your expensive air defense systems. Our only demand is that you behave as politely as you can. (No threats of torture and the likes) and that you release all the political prisoners in Belarus."

On August 10, the KGB summoned three representatives of Studio Total to appear in Minsk for questioning in connection with the invasion of Belarus' airspace by a foreign plane in early July.

Posted on the KGB website, the summons were addressed to Tomas Mazetti and Hannah Lina Frey, the people who piloted a single-engine plane when it entered Belarus' airspace illegally and dropped hundreds of teddy bears on the town of Ivyanets and residential districts in western Minsk on July 4, as well as to Per Cromwell who was legally staying in Belarus on that day to provide assistance to his associates in the event of emergency.

The KGB warned that if the Swedes failed to obey the summons, they would face a fine, a prison sentence of up to six months, or a correctional labor term of up to two years. If they fail to present themselves before the deadline without a good excuse, they may be compelled to travel in Minsk, the KGB said.
Last week, Belarus' authorities requested Lithuania and Sweden to help them investigate the illegal flight.