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Belarus hijacks Ryanair plane to arrest opponent

It was bound for Lithuania

It is still controversial after Belarus literally imposed the hijacking of a low-cost carrier Ryanair aircraft that had departed from Athens and headed for Vilnius, Lithuania. The plane in question landed at the national airport of Minsk to allow the arrest of Roman Protassevich, a former collaborator of Nexta, the Telegram channel of opposition to the Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko. The emergency landing was made mandatory by a military plane that approached the Irish company aircraft, referring to a bogus bomb alert. Protassevich, 26, was on board flight FR4978 which departed yesterday, Sunday 23 May 2021, from the Hellenic capital. The jet that escorted the aircraft is a Mig-29 of the Belarusian Air Force, after Lukashenko himself had defined the presence of the opponent among the passengers as a "threat to international civil aviation". The news went around the world and from the European Union came a harsh condemnation for what happened, given that Minsk took responsibility for the safety of all passengers and the aircraft involved. According to reports from anti-regime activists in Belarus, the 26-year-old faces the death penalty, also because last November it was decided to include his name among those considered by the former Soviet republic as "terrorist suspects". The release of the young man was loudly demanded by many, even the Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, condemned the episode, speaking of an "unacceptable violation of international air navigation rules".

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency