Belarus’s pressured touchdown of Lithuania-bound Ryanair airplane sparks outrage By Reuters

3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko attends the Roundtable Summit Section One Periods of Belt and Highway Discussion board on the Worldwide Convention Heart in Yanqi Lake on Could 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool/File Picture 2/3 By Andrey Ostroukh and Andrius Sytas MOSCOW (Reuters) -Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko attends the Roundtable Summit Section One Periods of Belt and Highway Discussion board on the Worldwide Convention Heart in Yanqi Lake on Could 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool/File Picture

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By Andrey Ostroukh and Andrius Sytas

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania to land on Sunday in Minsk, the place a Belarusian opposition activist on board was detained, prompting worldwide condemnation.

EU member Lithuania urged the European Union and NATO to reply, Germany known as for an instantaneous clarification and Poland’s prime minister known as it a “reprehensible act of state terrorism”.

The top of the European Fee, Ursula von der Leyen, mentioned Belarus’s motion was “totally unacceptable”.

The plane, flying from Athens to Vilnius, had nearly reached Lithuania when it modified path and was escorted to Minsk, the Belarusian capital, after studies that it had explosives on board, in accordance with an internet flight tracker and BelTA state information company.

Belarusian regulation enforcers took activist Roman Protasevich, 26 from the airplane and detained him. He was positioned on a needed listing after road protests final yr following a presidential election wherein Lukashenko was declared the winner however opponents complained of electoral fraud.

Lukashenko personally ordered a warplane to escort the Boeing (NYSE:) to Minsk, BelTA reported. No explosives have been discovered, it mentioned.

Lithuania and conventional Russian ally Belarus are neighbours and former members of the Soviet Union. Lithuania is now a member of the European Union, Belarus just isn’t.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda known as for a global response.

“I name on NATO and EU allies to right away react to the menace posed to worldwide civil aviation by the Belarus regime. The worldwide group should take quick steps that this doesn’t repeat,” Nauseda mentioned.

Lithuanian presidential adviser Asta Skaisgiryte mentioned the operation to force-land the airplane carrying round 170 individuals from 12 nations gave the impression to be pre-planned.

She mentioned Belarus intelligence companies knew who was onboard the airplane, which was pressured to land with the assistance of MIG-29 fighter jet. Protasevich had lived in Vilnius since November, she mentioned.

A Lithuanian airport authority spokeswoman informed Reuters the airplane, scheduled to land in Vilnius earlier on Sunday, was now anticipated to land later within the day.

“REGRETTABLE” INCIDENT

Ryanair mentioned the airplane’s crew have been notified by Belarus of a possible safety menace on board and have been instructed to divert to the closest airport, Minsk.

The airplane landed safely, passengers have been offloaded and safety checks have been made by native authorities, it mentioned.

The delay was regrettable and outdoors its management, it added.

The Belarus division for organised crime management additionally reported that Protasevich had been detained however then deleted the assertion from its Telegram channel.

In energy since 1994, Lukashenko launched a violent crackdown on the 2020 road protests. Round 35,000 individuals have been detained since August, human rights teams say. Dozens have obtained jail phrases. Authorities say that greater than 1,000 prison instances have been launched.

Protasevich is likely one of the founders of the opposition information service NEXT, a Telegram channel that has develop into one of many foremost sources of reports about demonstrations in Belarus. It’s hostile to Lukashenko and helps to coordinate protests.

    Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s foremost rival on the final election, mentioned Belarus authorities “positioned in danger security of passengers on board and the entire civil aviation for the sake of punishment of the person who was an editor of Belarus’s largest impartial Telegram channel”.





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