A video with an airplane circling over a church and dropping something down has been published on the internet, 15min.lt reports referring to telegraf.by. It supposedly proves the announcement of the Swedish PR-company about the airplane crossing the border between Lithuania and Belarus and dropping teddy-bears with propaganda texts over Belarus. Lithuanian authorities meanwhile confirmed there was a border violation, but refused to specify the details.
Earlier the Swedish Internet media The Local reported about two Swedish entrepreneurs crossing Belarus’ border from the territory of Lithuania on a single-engine airplane and dropping teddy-bears with texts in support for freedom of speech in Belarus.
According to Swedish mass media, the action was organized by the advertising agency Studio Total, and the entrepreneurs had gone through flight training courses. They allegedly flew at lowest possible level and crossed the border unnoticed by the air defense forces of both countries. The names of the pilots are kept in secret for safety reasons, according to the organizer of the action.
The Ministry of Defense of Belarus refuted the information on violation of the border. They stay that for the period of the previous 24 hours the air defense alert forces have tracked more than one thousand aircrafts, and air traffic control services are constantly monitoring the airspace in Belarus.
Meanwhile, the video shows a small single-engine airplane Jodel dropping down some objects. The plane makes several circles over a church that is very similar to the Church of St. Efrasinnia in Ivyanec, although earlier it was said that the teddy-bears had been dropped over Minsk. Ivyanec is located about 84 km to the west of Minsk in the direction to Lithuania where the “airborne agitprop assault force” came from, according to the organizer. It is hardly possible to tell when this video was made, but one can see a cross street banner with a text: “Happy Independence Day, Belarus” in Belarusian.
Despite the video published in the Internet the journalists from The Local, who were the first to publish the information about this action, doubt its veracity. They remind that PR-company Studio Total has played pranks on journalists before. In 2005, Studio Total organized a false “Cultural party” which turned out a PR stunt later. In 2011, they informed journalists about opening of “Austrian International School of Sex”. This fake news was meant to draw attention to the problem of low birth rate in Austria.
Lithuania spotted violation
Lithuania’s Armed Forces said they registered a violation of air-space regulations on Wednesday. However, they did not go so far as to link the violation with the reported Swedish protest action, refraining from further comment.
“Lithuania’s Armed Forces registered a breach of air-space regulations in the Lithuanian air-space. An investigation is underway in connection to the incident to establish the circumstances. We cannot give an answer whether the violation has to do with the incident reported in the media,” Captain Skomantas Povilionis, spokesman for the chief of defense, told BNS.