Greek national among passengers that got off at Minsk, report says

Carla Harmon
May 26, 2021

"Additional sanctions? Will this be sufficient?" "My son can not admit to creating the mass disorders because he just didn't do any such thing".

He said the Canadian government is calling for Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich to be released immediately.

In the video released overnight, Protasevich can be seen seated at a desk in a dark hooded sweatshirt.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined calls for Protasevich to be released, warning: "Belarus's actions will have consequences".

The EU and the United States imposed several rounds of financial sanctions against Minsk previous year, which had no effect on the behaviour of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who withstood mass demonstrations against his rule after a disputed election.

The Russian girlfriend of a Belarusian dissident arrested with him when their plane was diverted to Minsk is being held on suspicion of crimes at the time of protests a year ago, Moscow said Tuesday.

"Most leaders of Belarus' political parties have been either jailed or forced to flee the country", said Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights centre.

"Pilots are trained for this, and there are internationally agreed signals between the interceptor and the airliner", he said, adding that pilots carry drawings or descriptions of the intercept signals with them on every flight.

The UN agency ICAO has said the incident may have violated the foundational treaty governing worldwide civil aviation, the 1944 Chicago Convention. Politicians in the West have called for tougher measures.

Speaking to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Stsiapan Putsila, another Nexta co-founder, said he and his colleagues have received "thousands of threats" in the past to blow up their office in the Polish capital.

U.S. President Joe Biden said late Monday that he asked his team to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible, in close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners, and worldwide organizations.

Added Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: "We know that in this country, the major state companies make the money". "They're going to kill him in there!"

Belgium's Charles Michel, who chairs European Union summits, tweeted "Europe in action", with a picture of a flight tracker map of the continent showing no planes flying over Belarus.

"This shocking act perpetrated by the Lukashenko regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including US citizens", Blinken added. This is an attack on freedom of expression.

Belarus has been rocked by months of protests, which were triggered by Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that the opposition rejected as rigged.

The 66-year-old leader has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for over two decades and responded to the demonstrations with a violent crackdown, detaining thousands, many of whom reported torture and abuse in custody.

In Belarus, he faces charges of organizing mass unrest, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in jail. A Belarusian Mig-29 fighter jet was also dispatched to escort the flight.

Roman Protasevich, 26, fled Belarus in 2019 to the European Union from where he co-ran the Nexta Telegram channels, a key Belarus opposition media that helped mobilise protesters.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the U.S. The video shows Protasevich with a mark on his forehead, raising questions about whether he had been beaten. "She simply showed up in the wrong place at the wrong time". The spokesperson for the U.N.'s human rights office, Rupert Colville, said Pratasevich's appearance was likely not voluntary and that he seemed to have bruising to his face, though it was hard to tell from the footage.

The video of Protasevich's alleged confession was distributed in multiple channels on the social media and messaging site Telegram that are allied with Belarus's strongman president, Alexander Lukashenko. It noted that under Lithuanian law, the use of force against a civilian aircraft to force it to change its route "under the false pretext of a bomb threat" constitutes the crime of hijacking.

Other reports by iNewsToday