Belarus ‘diverts Ryanair flight to arrest journalist’, says opposition

Ryanair file image

A Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania has been redirected to Minsk, with Belarusian resistance figures saying it was done so a dissenter writer on board could be captured.

The resistance Nexta station on Telegram said its ex-proofreader Roman Protasevich had been kept.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda blamed Belarus for an “loathsome activity” and requested his delivery.

Belarus state media said the plane had been redirected in view of a bomb alarm.

Resistance pioneer Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was beaten by Alexander Lukashenko a year ago in official surveys generally decried as manipulated, additionally requested Mr Protasevich’s delivery.

Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said Belarus’ activity was “in spite of worldwide law” and the response ought to be “solid and powerful”.

Germany requested an “prompt clarification” from Belarus.

In the UK, Tom Tugendhat, administrator of the House of Commons international concerns advisory group, said that “driving an airplane to land to quiet resistance voices is an assault on majority rule government.”

The redirection of Flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius on Sunday was noticeable on the flightradar124 site. It showed the plane going east to Minsk presently before it arrived at the Lithuania line. Ryanair has not yet reacted to a solicitation for input.

Russian media cited the Minsk air terminal press administration as saying the plane had made a crisis arrival following a supposed bomb alarm.

Belta, the state-possessed news organization in Belarus, said Mr Lukashenko had actually provided the request for the plane to land at Minsk following the bomb alert, and that a MiG-29 contender fly had been despatched to go with the Ryanair plane.


Nexta said no bomb was found ready and the travelers were looked, after which Mr Protasevich, 26, was kept.

Nexta assumed a vital part for the resistance during the political race and in its fallout.

In a progression of tweets, Ms Tikhanovskaya blamed the Belarus government for driving the plane to land to capture Mr Protasevich, who she said confronted capital punishment as he has been arranged as a psychological oppressor.

She said Mr Protasevich had left Belarus in 2019 and covered the occasions of the 2020 official political decision with Nexta, after which criminal accusations were recorded against him in Belarus.

Western pioneers have upheld Ms Tikhanovskaya, who asserted triumph in the political decision before she had to leave Belarus for Lithuania. She had become an applicant after her better half was imprisoned and banished from running.

A huge number of dissidents crowded the capital Minsk for quite a long time a year ago, incensed at Mr Lukashenko’s announcement of triumph. There have been various instances of police mercilessness and about 2,700 arraignments this year alone.

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