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Teddy bear paratroopers invade Belarus

Stuffed animals carrying pro-democracy messages dropped on Belarus.

Teddy bears invade belarusEnlarge
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko waves as he walks with his son Nikolay while arriving to watch a military parade to mark the nation's Independence Day in central Minsk, on July 3, 2012. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Generals are accustomed to losing their jobs – maybe their lives – when airplanes penetrate their defenses and drop deadly cargo.

But two military leaders from Belarus probably didn’t expect they would be fired today because activists dropped Teddy bears pushing peace messages on the country.

Gone are the former Soviet state’s air force chief and its head of border security after a small airplane from Sweden parachuted 800 stuffed animals carrying pro-democracy messages on Belarus.

The incident happened on July 4, but President Alexander Lukashenko didn’t publicly acknowledge it until a recent government meeting.

“This plane was discovered in time, but why did the (air defense) authorities not intercept the flight?” Lukashekno said, according to Reuters “Come on lads. We are all grown up. The guilty ones have to answer for this.”

He sacked the generals and other security officials on Tuesday.

Also, police arrested a journalism student and real estate agent for aiding and abetting the Swedish mission.

More from GlobalPost: EU condemns Belarus for execution of alleged Minsk subway bombers

The student posted pictures of the bears online, while the agent offered to shelter the Swedes.

They face seven years in prison if convicted.

A Swedish public relations company called Studio Total chartered the airplane and entered Belarus from Lithuania, BBC said.

It dropped the bears near Ivenets and around the capital, Minsk.

The White House once called Belarus, a country of 10 million people, “Europe’s last dictatorship,” Reuters reported.

“Hopefully, we’ve made people more aware in the world and that there will be more people supporting Belarusian people,” one of the protesters, Hannah Frey, told The Associated Press.

Lukashenko has used his military might to snuff out free press since 1994, and citizens there have used stuffed animals in symbolic protest before.

The nation's last election was mired in controversy and calls that Lukashenko fixed the result.

“Our campaign was a campaign in support of that,” said her co-conspirator, Thomas Mazetti. “An airlift in support of the teddy bears, from teddy bears around the world.”

More from GlobalPost: EU pulls all diplomats from Belarus 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120801/teddy-bear-paratroopers-invade-belarus