18 January 2018, Thursday, 11:00

Swedish pilots receive Charter'97 Award


Tomas Mazetti, Per Cromwell and Hannah Frey met with charter97.org editor Natallia Radzina in Malmo (Sweden).

The Swedes won the Charter'97 National Human Rights Award 2012.

Tomas Mazetti, Per Cromwell and Hannah Frey from Swedish PR firm Studio Total performed a dangerous flight to the last dictatorship of Europe to support Belarusian independent journalists.

The courage of the Swedish pilots astonished the whole world. Their light aircraft could have been shot down at any moment and the Swedish enthusiasts could have died. They were lucky to have a successful flight. The bold Swedes dropped hundreds of teddy bears carrying free speech slogans over Minsk and Ivyanets.

Furious Lukashenka almost went mad. His boasted military power became an object of mockery. Heads of army generals rolled and the embassy of Sweden in Minsk was closed. The world's leading TV channels and newspaper talked about Belarus as a country, where the opposition suffers from harassment and the dictator is so weak that he fears even teddy bears.

Giving the prize to Mazetti, Frey and Cromwell, Natallia Radzina said the Charter'97 Award was founded in 1998, but the Swedish pilots became the first foreign citizens for 15 years who received it for their courage in human rights struggle in Belarus.

Studio Total members don't think they are heroes. “You are heroes in Belarus,” they said to the charter97.org editor. “We risked only for an hour, but you have been living under dictatorship every day for almost 19 years.”

They seem not to realise they could have been killed during their flight.

The Swedes understand that even being Europe's last dictatorship, Belarus doesn't have enough attention from the world and Europe. European politicians don't worry about the fate of the people of Belarus. That was the reason why ordinary Swedish citizens decided to carry out the “teddy bear attack”.

According to a press release of Studio Total, the flight was organised to support the website charter97.org and the independent media in Belarus.

Asked why they decided to support charter97.org website, the Swedes answered together (Hannah, Tomas, and Per try to answer all question together showing that they are a team):

“For us, Charter'97 is a symbol of struggling for free speech,” they say. “We initially wanted to drop newspapers with true news, for example Charter'97 newspaper, but we then learnt about protest actions with toys in your country and decided to drop teddy bears. We also read a lot about you, Natallia. We were impressed by your story.”

The Swedes speak carefully about other performances to support democracy in Belarus: “We cannot announce our future performances, but we are concerned about the fate of Belarusians,” they said.

Natallia Radzina recalled how Tomas Mazetti said in September 12 that Lukashenka would remain in power only 14 months. “Under the laws of cyclic development, something will happen in Belarus  this spring. Lukashenka's power will weaken considerably in autumn,” the Swedish pilot is confident.