The Lukashenko regime in Belarus "hijacked" a RYANAIR plane to Minsk to arrest an opponent of the current president, Alexander Lukashenko
On the morning of Sunday, May 23, 2021, an unprecedented aviation event took place. Flight FR4978 Athens - Vilnius, operated by RYANAIR, was diverted to Minsk at the behest of the Lukashenko regime. The order to intercept the commercial plane was allegedly given by President Alexander Lukashenko himself.
There were 123 people on board the plane, including Roman Pratasevic, who laid the foundations of the Nexta channel on the Telegram, thus becoming one of the main sources of news against Alexander Lukashenko. He is hostile to the Belarusian leader and helped coordinate protests.
The interception and diversion of the plane to Minsk was done with a MiG-29 plane under the pretext of the existence of a bomb on board. Later it turned out that everything was just a very well orchestrated action by Alexander Lukashenko. There is also information circulating in the international press that there were 5 KGB agents, the Belarusian security service, on board the plane.
Diversion of the Boeing 737-800 RYANAIR aircraft
The Boeing 737-800 (SP-RSM) RYANAIR aircraft took off from Minsk at 20:47, with 117 passengers on board, 6 less than the initial flight that took off from Athens. He landed in Vilnius, the final destination, at 21:27.
The action taken by the Lukashenko regime in Belarus has attracted strong criticism and strong reactions from European leaders, according to with the BBC.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda accused Belarus of "ugly action", while Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said Belarus' action was "contrary to international law".
Greece and France have expressed their anger. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: "The hijacking of a civilian plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism that cannot go unpunished."
The German foreign ministry said Belarus should immediately explain both the abduction and the alleged arrest of Pratasevich.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was a "serious and dangerous incident".
The UN Civil Aviation Agency, ICAO, has expressed concern about an "apparent forced landing" that could "contravene the Chicago Convention", which lays down rules on airspace and aircraft safety.
In Britain, Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, said "forcing a plane to land to silence opposition voices is an attack on democracy".
Press release issued by RYANAIR
Irish airline Ryanair confirmed the incident and said it had been alerted to a security threat by Belarusian authorities. Fortunately, "nothing was found"!
"Ryanair has notified the relevant national and European safety and security agencies and we sincerely apologize to all passengers affected by this unfortunate delay, which was beyond Ryanair's control.", It is shown in a communiqué of the company
Let's hope that this situation does not just remain at the level of statements. There are questions about freedom of air: how vulnerable can other flights be to this type of behavior? Some already call it an act of aggression or state terrorism, a form of embezzlement. Were the passengers in danger? What precedent can be set? Should flights be removed from Belarusian airspace?
It remains to be seen what will happen!
Seeing what is happening in Belarus, we may appreciate more the fact that in Romania we still have freedom of expression and a MiG is not coming to shut us up. At the same time, maybe we appreciate more Romania's presence in the EU!