Biden calls Belarus plane diversion an 'outrageous incident'

Elias Hubbard
May 26, 2021

The Belarusian transport ministry on Tuesday released a transcript of communications between Minsk air traffic control and the Ryanair flight, in which the crew was told "you have a bomb on board" and urged it to land in Minsk.

Dmitry welcomed action taken by European Union leaders at a summit this week, saying that it would "help radically change the situation".

Since Sunday, airlines have rerouted flights to avoid the country's airspace and European Union leaders have directed officials to draft unspecified sanctions against Minsk, on top of a potential ban on Belarusian airlines from EU skies. Polish carrier LOT and Baltic airlines have begun bypassing Belarus.

Air France, Finnair and Singapore Airlines became the latest carriers to suspend flights over Belarus, following Scandinavian airline SAS, Germany's Lufthansa and Latvia-based regional airline airBaltic.

While branding the forced grounding of the Ryanair flight in Minsk unacceptable, the KKE said: "The people of Belarus themselves are the sole [people] responsible to choose their future and determine the political developments in their country, without foreign interventions that serve other purposes".

WASHINGTON, May 26 ― President Joe Biden said yesterday that U.S. sanctions against Belarus are in play, but declined to offer more details.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has deemed the event "state hijacking" and Ireland and France have characterized it as piracy amid mounting worldwide outrage.

"This is a state hijacking and demonstrates how the regime in Minsk attacks basic democratic rights and cracks down on freedom of expression and independent media", he said, adding that an urgent global investigation was needed.

The 30-nation military organization's ambassadors are meeting later Tuesday and will discuss the episode.

The father said he had communicated with his son on Saturday, a day before he took a flight from Athens to Vilnius that was diverted to Minsk where he and his girlfriend were arrested.

Colville, the U.N.'s human rights office spokesperson, denounced the plane's diversion as "abuse of state power" that deserves "the strongest condemnation".

"I applaud the courage and determination of Belarusians fighting for basic rights, including journalists like Raman Pratasevich and opposition leaders like Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her husband, Syarhey Tsikhanouski", Biden said in a statement.

"This astonishing episode constitutes a new phase in the Belarusian authorities campaign of repression against journalists and civil society in general", Colville said.

With a file from The Associated Press.

Putsila said that the group relies on police protection and undertake "all the possible safety measures to minimize threats and carry out our everyday work".

Protasevich's parents moved to Poland eight months ago after being harassed during a crackdown against unprecedented mass protests that followed a disputed presidential election in August 2020.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is looking at further sanctions against Belarus in response to its arrest of a journalist over the weekend, just as the autocratic regime announced that it is closing its embassy in Ottawa.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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