European airlines bypassed Belarus on Tuesday.
New sanction was issued to the former Soviet nation, Airliner diversion was made by force.
|European Union Airlines Plan Bypassed Belarus ,journalist Raman Pratasevich Arrest ,Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Ordered,File Photo,- AP|
MOSCOW – European airlines bypassed Belarus on Tuesday. European Union urged them to do so while imposing new sanctions on the former Soviet nation to punish it for forced diversion of an airliner.
The bold decision, apparently ordered by the authoritarian President of Belarus, sparked shock and anger, and EU leaders took unusually quick action at a summit on Monday.
The 27-nation bloc on Sunday imposed sanctions on officials related to the diversion of flights and called on the International Civil Aviation Organization to open an investigation into the episode, which some labeled as state terrorism or piracy, and called for the immediate release of journalist Raman Pratasevich, one of the main enemies of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country with an iron fist more than Pratasevich, was arrested on Sunday after Belarusian air traffic controllers told the crew of a Ryanair plane that he should be on board a bomb threat against the Flight and they ordered him to land.
Belarus has defended its actions and its Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that it had invited representatives from the International Aviation Organization and US and EU authorities to investigate the diversion.
The Polish airline LOT and the Baltic airline have started avoiding Belarus. Air France, KLM, Finnair, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have announced that they will also avoid flights over the country.
Airlines do not fly over Belarus and British Airways flights bypass the country. In a sign that tensions remained high, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the rerouting of the Ryanair flight as “dangerous and unacceptable” and welcomed the EU’s response.
It is a kidnapping of the state and shows how the Minsk regime attacks basic democratic rights and suppresses freedom of expression and the independent media, ”said Stoltenberg.
Ambassadors from the 30-nation military organization will meet later Tuesday to discuss the episode.
The 26-year-old journalist and activist was arrested with his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega. He was later seen in a short video clip that was shown on Belarusian state television.
He spoke quickly and said he was testifying to the organization of mass unrest.The human rights bureau denounced the aircraft’s aberration as an “abuse of state power” that deserves “the strongest condemnation”.
Rupert Colville said Pratasevich’s brief appearance on Belarusian state television on Monday night was “not comforting given the obvious bruising on his face and the high likelihood that his appearance was not voluntary and that his” confession “was coerced into crime. Graves was coerced.” That’s great.
“The episode marks a new phase in the campaign of repression by the Belarusian authorities against journalists and civil society in general,” said Colville.
Pratasevich, who left Belarus in 2019 and ran a popular messaging app that played a key role in organizing major protests against Lukashenko, was in absentia accused of organizing mass riots and inciting social hatred.
This charge carries a sentence of up to 15 years. The Nexta channel of the messaging app Telegram, which he co-founded, has been classified as “extremist” by the Belarusian authorities.
Some fear Pratasevich could face more serious charges, including those carrying the death penalty. Speaking to the Associated Press in Warsaw, Stsiapa n Putsila, another co-founder of Nexta, said he and his colleagues had received “thousands of threats” in the past to blow up their office in the Polish capital.
He added that after Pratasevich‘s arrest they received a number of new threats, “that we’re next, they won’t even take us to Belarus, but they will be executed immediately, they will blow up our office and we must be scared to have.
” Putsila said the group relies on police protection and is looking into possible security measures to minimize threats and carry out our daily work.
Belarus was rocked by months of protests sparked by Lukashenko’s re-election to a sixth term in a year, vote in August 2020, which the opposition rejected as rigged.
Since then, more than 34,000 people have been arrested and thousands beaten in Belarus.
President Joe Biden said Monday evening that he had asked his team to develop appropriate options to hold those responsible to account, in close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners. and international organizations. “This scandalous incident and