Russian Federation will allow European flights to and from Moscow to bypass Belarus

Andrew Cummings
May 29, 2021

After the flight was forced to land in Minsk (MSQ) under the escort of an armed Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet, two passengers identified as opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega were arrested by the KGB, the Belarusian security services. The White House announced it was working with the European Union on a list of targeted sanctions against key members of Lukashenko's regime.

The Belarusian opposition has called for further and stronger measures and more protests. "We love you and we'll get you out of there", said Protasevich. The White House also issued a "Do Not Travel" warning for Belarus to USA citizens, and warned American passenger planes to "exercise extreme caution" if considering flying over Belarusian airspace.

Lukashenko is scheduled to visit Russian Federation on Friday to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Putin agreed with Lukashenko's opinion that the reaction to the Ryanair landing demonstrated an "emotional outburst", and added there were many other common fields of interest both leaders could discuss, according to the statement.

Lukashenko complained that the West was seeking to stir unrest in Belarus.

"There has been an attempt to stir up the situation so it would end up being similar to that of August previous year".

The Belarus strongman and his allies are under a series of Western sanctions over a brutal crackdown on mass protests that followed his disputed re-election to a sixth term last August.

"I acted lawfully to protect our people", Lukashenko said in an address to parliament, the Belta state-run news agency reported.

Several people died in the unrest, with many reporting torture and abuse in custody.

"There was an impression that remarks by Europeans were staged in advance and each country played its part", Gudkov told TASS, adding that "there was no forced landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk, neither an air traffic controller nor the scrambled fighter jet of the Belarusian Air Force forced a pilot to change direction". Russian Federation insists the cancellations are purely "technical", but they have raised concerns that Moscow could be systematically refusing to let European airlines land if they avoid Belarus.

"The Swiss authorities have no knowledge of a bomb threat on the Ryanair Athens-Vilnius flight", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Protasevich, who helped organize historic demonstrations against Lukashenko's rule past year, was arrested along with Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega, 23, after the plane landed in Minsk.

President Alexander Lukashenko dismisses global outcry over incident in his first public statement since diverting a Ryanair flight to arrest dissident journalist Roman Protasevich. After meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, Tikhanovskaya said measures being discussed by European Union countries did not go far enough.

But she said she supported the EU's actions as "reasonable" and that Belarusians "cannot blame anyone for this except the regime". The European Commission president also wrote to the opposition offering a three-billion-euro package to support "a democratic Belarus" if Lukashenko steps down.

Other reports by iNewsToday