The participants in the European Council meeting held on May, 24 strongly condemned the recent forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk and the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Safiya Sapeha.
– demanded the immediate release of Raman Pratasevich and Safiya Sapefa and that their freedom of movement be guaranteed;
– called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation to urgently investigate this unprecedented and unacceptable incident;
– invited the Council to adopt additional listings of persons and entities as soon as possible on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework;
– called on the Council to adopt further targeted economic sanctions and invites the High Representative and the Commission to submit proposals without delay to this end;
– called on all EU-based carriers to avoid overflight of Belarus;
– called on the Council to adopt the necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines;
– stood in solidarity with Latvia following the unjustified expulsion of Latvian diplomats.
It should be noted that the above mentioned measures, including barring Belarusian airlines from flying to/from/over EU member country, will come into force only after being approved by the EU Council at the ministerial level.
On May 23, Ryanair’s Boeing 737-8AS which was flying from Athens to Vilnius unexpectedly changed its course over the Belarusian town of Lida and headed to Minsk. Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka personally gave the order to land the plane in the Belarusian capital city; in order to ‘escort’ the passenger carrier, a MiG-29 fighter was scrambled. It should be noted that the plane was not far from the Belarusian-Lithuanian air border at that moment; it was at a distance of 90 km from Vilnius and about 200 km – from Minsk.
A bit later, it became known that the Belarusian authorities arrested journalist Raman Pratasevich, whom they consider as a ‘terrorist’ at Minsk National Airport; he happened to be among the passengers of the widely-reported flight. The bomb threat was officially refuted by the airport administration. The operation of forcibly landing the Ryanair airplane seems to have been deliberately planned and performed by pro-Lukashenka secret services.
In November 2020, Stsyapan Putsila, the founder of NEXTA TG channels, and Raman Pratasevich, a former deputy editor of the channels, were included in the ‘List of organisations and individuals involved in terrorist activities’ by the Belarusian authorities. The NEXTA group kept steering and controlling the 2020 post-election protests in Belarus via channels on the web, the regime believes.
belsat.eu, following consillium.europa.eu