Tsikhanouskaya could have become target as well – aide about grounding Ryanair carrier, arresting Pratasevich

Franak Vyachorka.

Franak Vyachorka, an international affairs advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, passed his opinion on the possible purpose of recently hijacking the Ryanair flight:

In fact, Tsikhanoгskaya and the delegation could have been the target of the hijacking operation; and one of the versions that is being considered now is an attempt. We have been informed about it by the special services of the neighbouring states. There is a need to start an international investigation that would provide us with exact information about the persons behind the hijack and the way they staged it. We are dealing with the terrorist [Lukashenka]. But he is making a big mistake if he thinks that he is able to intimidate someone by acting this way.”

This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the Protonmail box from which ‘Hamas soldiers’ allegedly warned Minsk Airport of a bomb threat related to a Ryanair commercial jet flying over Belarus en route from Athens to Vilnius, had been created on May 14, i.e. nine days prior еў the grave air incident.

It should be recalled that on 12-14 May Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya was visiting Greece. She made a speech at the Delphi Economic Forum in Athens and met with Greece’s President and Foreign Minister, the Mayor of Athens, Northern Macedonia’s Prime Minister, other top officials. On May 23, Raman Pratasevich was flying back to Vilnius by the same route.

The above mentioned letter from ‘Hamas’ also refers to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which was at its flash-point on May 14. Notably, the ceasefire was announced on May 20, i.e. three days before the forced landing of the plane carrying Pratasevich.

Letter from Hamas causes Ryanair flight diversion, Belarusian authorities say

On May 23, a Ryanair’s Boeing 737-8AS flying over Belarus was forced to land in Minsk by the local authorities claiming that they got the information about a bomb planted onboard. Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka personally gave the 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. Blogger Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend, Russian citizen Sofia Sapega, were arrested by security services in the Belarusian capital city. The operation of forcibly landing the Ryanair airplane seems to have been deliberately planned and performed by pro-Lukashenka secret services.

In the wake of the controversial situation, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary slammed Belarusian officials, labelling the steps taken by them as ‘state-sponsored hijacking’.

The outrageous incident has triggered a mighty international row. Politicians, diplomats, international organisations denounced the actions of the Lukashenka regime. The participants in the European Council meeting held on May, 24 strongly condemned the recent forced landing of the flight and, among other things, called for adopting the necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by them. US President Joe Biden called the grounding of the Ryanair plane and the arrest of the journalist ‘shameful assaults on political dissent’.

On May 27, G7 foreign ministers and EU High Representative Josep Borrell announced ‘enhancing efforts to promote accountability for the actions of the Belarus authorities’.

Mother of Raman Pratasevich says her son was badly beaten