Belarus: No-kite-fly zone

 Reuters / Enrique Castro-Mendivil
Launching a handmade kite may get you in trouble today in Belarus, where it could be considered a national security threat by the military, which is on constant alert after the “teddy-bear assault” carried out by Swedish activists last month.

Viktor Emelyanenko, resident of the city of Grodno near the border with Poland and Lithuania, wanted to surprise his grandson with a handmade kite, but was unpleasantly surprised when, just 30 minutes after launching the toy, he got a visit from the military.

Emelyanenko said he had taken the kite to his yard to test it out. Less than half an hour later, his estate in near the border with Poland was swarming with anxious-looking men in uniform.

According to Emelyanenko, the military took several photographs of the kite, some of him and one of his car’s license plate.

A major, one of the men who came to my house,” Emelyanenko told reporters, “looked really unhappy that my kite had managed to get so many military officials heated up. He said it wasn’t just the anti-missile defense division, but the border patrol and the air force that were on alert. All because of my tiny handmade kite!”

The military’s concerns were caused by an incident last month when two Swedes flying a small plane discharged a teddy-bear bombardment on Belarus. Hundreds of plush provocateurs were parachuted down with “Support freedom of speech!” messages as the plane flew over the capital, Minsk.

The “teddy-bear airdrop” has strained relations between Belarus and Sweden, with both sides expelling each other’s diplomats.

Teddy bears with anti-government messages flying over Belarus. Image from
Teddy bears with anti-government messages flying over Belarus. Image from