Photos of Teddy Bears Land Belarus Student Behind Bars

belarus teddy bears fly over minsk

“Freedom” teddy bears drop into Minsk, Belarus (Photo via Studio Total)

Anton Surapin did what millions do every day: he posted photos of something interesting online. But he lives in ex-Soviet Belarus, the most authoritarian state in Europe, and the photographs in question were of teddy bears that had just parachuted out of the sky carrying a pro-human rights message.

For uploading on his website the controversial teddy bear photos, the twenty-year-old photographer and student was thrown in prison.

Charges against Surapin stem from the July 4, 2012 stunt organized by Swedish advertising firm Studio Total to highlight the clampdown on freedom of expression in Belarus. The company airdropped hundreds of teddy bears on parachutes with placards calling for free speech to be respected in Belarus. The campaign has most recently triggered diplomatic scuffle, with Belarus and Sweden expelling envoys over the controversy.