Russian ally, Belarus, recently had an election that most believe was rigged in favor of Alexander Lukashenko. A young reporter violated the news blackout and reported on anti-Lukashenko protests following the general election through the Nexta Live channel he co-founded.
Lukashenko wants the dissident journalist Roman Protasevich arrested. Protasevich has been in exile in Poland since 2019.
Today, under the guise of a possible security threat, Belarus basically forced a plane to land. Protasevich was a passenger on that plane. He was arrested and there was no threat.
It was a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania, forced to land in Minsk. This was a hijacking but Belarus’s statements are unapologetic and mocking.
The way they did it was not-so-subtly pretending the “hijacking” was a request:
Belarus, an ally of Russia, said Monday its air traffic controllers could not “force” the Ryanair flight to land, and instead gave the plane’s crew “recommendations,” Reuters reported citing Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Belarusian state-owned news agency BelTA reported that authorities scrambled a MiG-29 fighter jet to divert the flight as it neared the Lithuanian border following orders from strongman President Alexander Lukashenko.
Ryanair confirmed that the crew on flight FR4978 had been notified by Belarusian air traffic control of a potential security threat on board. The plane landed and safety checks were carried out but “nothing untoward was found.”
So, what they were saying is, you don’t have to land but there’s a Russian fighter jet on your wing.
It is now an international incident with Tony Blinken demanding Protasevich’s release, but why would they cooperate?
It’s another test.
The full story is at CNBC.