Teddy-drop team invites Lukashenko to Sweden
Published: 14 Aug 2012 14:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 Aug 2012 14:59 GMT+02:00
The founders of the Swedish PR firm which dropped pro-free speech teddy bears over Belarus have written another open letter to President Alexander Lukashenko, declining his offer of a meeting in Minsk, and instead inviting him to their house in Skåne, southern Sweden.
The letter comes in response to a missive, which members of the PR firm received on Saturday, asking them to appear before the KGB in Minsk.
"You are to appear before the Department of Investigation of the KGB for participating in investigative actions (interrogation) within 10 days. You have to inform KGB on the time of your arrival," the letters from Belarus said.
They were also cautioned that if they decline, they risk being penalized "by a fine or by correctional work for up to two years, or imprisonment for up to six months", according to the letter.
“The way it stood, we would have been going to a Minsk prison as suspects with no neutral ground. But we thought - if he’s so interested, he can come here,” Studio Total founder Per Cromwell told The Local on Tuesday.
Studio Total, the PR company that organized and carried out the stunt in July, demanded in their response that the political prisoners of the KGB be released, adding that as “flattering as it is for a small advertising agency to get this kind of attention from a real live dictator… there are some details we need to discuss”.
It continues by picking fault with the President’s summons notice, taking issue with the condition that the team was asked to come to Minsk within ten days or face two years correctional work.
It also criticizes the deportation of the Swedish ambassador in what they refer to as “sudden spat of bad temper” by Lukashenko.
The letter finishes with the offer of an all-expenses paid trip for the president to Skåne, southern Sweden, where the team will explain “everything you want to know on how to cheat your expensive air defence systems”.
The offer comes with one condition:
“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.”
However, company founder Cromwell is unsure if the team will even receive a response from the Belarusian president.
“We realize there is a very small probability that he will come, but our intentions are clear – we want the prisoners released. We have spoken to media from all over the world, and one thing we have succeeded in is drawing attention to the situation in Belarus,” he told The Local.
“If our work keeps getting attention, then the pressure remains high. We’ve seen that he has become even more irrational, trying to punish Lithuania because their airfield was involved, for example.”
“If we can keep him occupied because he is mad chasing after flying teddy bears, then there is simply more opportunity in general for the people of Belarus. Anything that makes Lukashenko lose face is welcome.”
As for the next move, Cromwell explains that the team is taking a step back from the current “turbulence” and is looking forward to hearing a response from Minsk.
“We’re not sure if we’ll hear from him after his ten-day summon runs out, or whether he will respond directly to our letter, but either way, we’re looking forward to it,” he told The Local.
“We’ve made our move – now we’re waiting to see theirs.”