Two arrested for taking pictures while holding teddy bears

Woman in court after having her picture taken holding a teddy bear 
By: John Roberts 

Having your picture taken while holding a teddy bear is now a crime.

Belarusian Police arrested two journalists after posing for photographs while holding teddy bears after hundreds of teddy bears were dropped by air into the country in a bid to promote democracy, and to shame the authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

One of the two, Irina Kozlik, who works for Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, was fined 3 million Belarusian rubles or about $500 by a court in Minsk on Thursday, while Yulia Doroshkevich, a press photographer, was to appear in court later in the day.

An officer of the Association of Journalists of the former Soviet Republic said on Thursday, that Kozlik, 27, and Doroshkevich, 31, were arrested on Wednesday night, in the capital Minsk.

They were accused of "conducting an unauthorized protest," Vice President of the Association, Andrei Bastunets, said. "This very well shows that Kozlik was recognized as guilty of violating the laws on protest," he added.

On July 4, a plane chartered by a Swedish company of public relations, dropped 800 toy bears that carried pro-democracy messages into Belarus territory. Lukashenko then sacked air defense heads and border guards, and expelled the ambassador of Sweden.

The teddy bear "blitz" marked the last pro-democracy stunt designed to ridicule Lukashenko’s iron grip on the country that he has ruled since 1994, three years after the Soviet breakup.