Russian Federation says Belarus taking 'reasonable' approach to plane incident

  • Russian Federation says Belarus taking 'reasonable' approach to plane incident

Russian Federation says Belarus taking 'reasonable' approach to plane incident

"It just simply can not be allowed to stand", she said.

The frightened man was Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old Belarusian political opposition activist and journalist.

Lukshenko also received strong reaction from government leaders worldwide and across the European Union, with Greece's Foreign Minister calling it a "state hijacking" and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen saying "the outrageous and illegal behavior of the regime in Belarus will have consequences".

Speaking to Ireland's Newstalk radio, O'Leary said: "It appears the intent of the authorities was to remove a journalist and his traveling companion".

The flight path of the fated Athens to Vilnius flight which was forced to land in Belarus.

He was among 171 passengers on the Ryanair flight and the diversion prompted an angry response from Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauséda who demanded Pratasevich's immediate release. He said that two fighter jets escorting the plane left as soon as the vessel reached the Lithuanian airspace.

The U.S. and the European Union already have imposed sanctions on top Belarusian officials amid months of protests, which were triggered by Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth presidential term in an August vote that the opposition rejected as rigged. More than 34,000 people have been arrested in Belarus since then, and thousands were brutally beaten.

A false bomb alert has diverted a commercial Ryanair flight in Europe to Belarus in an "unprecedented" and "utterly unacceptable" move to arrest an opposition-aligned journalist. Upon landing a passenger, a well known journalist from Belarus, was taken off the plane.

After seven hours on the ground, the plane departed and finally landed in Vilnius where Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte was waiting to meet the passengers. There have been conflicting reports of what exactly happened.

Protasevich has protested against the presidency of Alexander Lukashenko. Air Force Deputy Commander Andrey Gruzevic told Belarus National Television that Ryanair's crew had made a decision to land in Minsk, as fighters "supported civilian aircraft to ensure a safe landing".

Pratasevich, shown arriving for a court hearing in Minsk in 2017, was detained Sunday after the plane he was on was diverted to the Belarusian capital. It's an act rightly described as air piracy, a hijacking, and a kidnapping.

"I looked directly into his eyes and he was very sad", she said. Agents from Belarus had tracked him down and arrested him after the flight's involuntary landing. Lithuania's president said the Belarusian "regime is behind the abhorrent action" and called on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union to respond, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, "We demand all passengers' immediate release".

"I saw this Belarusian guy whose girlfriend was sitting right behind us".

"The plane was checked, no bomb was found and all passengers were sent for another security search", said Nexta.

Protasevich was returning to Vilnius from an economic conference in Greece with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Greek officials said. A number of other passengers did not return when the plane was released for take off.

"I took videos of nearly everything and posted it online, despite the fact that they were waving to us to close the cameras", Raselle said.

He was a blogger and co-founder and editor of Nexta, a popular channel on the Telegram messaging app that was a key factor in organizing protests in Belarus after a presidential election in August 2020.

Almost 2 million Belarusians in the nation of 9.3-million people have followed the channel, which has served as the main conduit for organizing demonstrations and offered advice on how to dodge police cordons.

Arrested off the plane in Minsk, Pratasevich faces up to 12 years in prison under the terrorism charges levied against him with some fearing, including Pratasevich himself, that he could possibly face the death penalty.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres backed calls for a "full, transparent and independent investigation in this disturbing incident". "Global reaction needed!" she wrote on Twitter.

Though Belarusian authorities have a heavy-handed reputation, a few passengers took photos and videos with their mobile phones.

As relations with Europe collapsed and sanctions were imposed, Lukashenko - who had initially blamed Russian Federation for fomenting revolution in Belarus - saw his traditional policy of balancing his two large neighbours against each fatally compromised.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he needed to investigate the episode, but couldn't hurry.