Belarus Forces Down Ryanair Flight Carrying Journalist

On Sunday, Lithuania’s president, Gitanas Nauseda, describing Belarus’s actions as “abhorrent,” known as for its airspace to be declared unsafe and for Belarusian plane to not be accepted at E.U. airports.

In Russia — the place the state media described final yr’s rebellion towards Mr. Lukashenko as a Western plot — the arrest met with approval amongst Mr. Putin’s supporters. Margarita Simonyan, editor of the pro-Kremlin RT tv community, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Lukashenko “played it beautifully.” And Vyacheslav Lysakov, a member of Parliament allied with Mr. Putin, described Mr. Protasevich’s arrest as a “brilliant special operation.”

The Belarusian authorities mentioned that they had ordered the airplane to land after receiving details about a bomb menace, although Vilnius, the airplane’s vacation spot, was a lot nearer than Minsk when the jetliner circled, flight-tracking information confirmed. The nation’s Defense Ministry mentioned in one other assertion that the nation’s air protection forces had been placed on excessive alert.

Mr. Lukashenko and his authorities are recognized to make use of ruses to pursue their political opponents.

Mr. Protasevich’s arrest comes months after the most important wave of avenue protests within the historical past of Belarus did not depose Mr. Lukashenko, who has been the nation’s authoritarian chief for greater than 26 years.

More than 32,000 protesters had been arrested and a minimum of 4 died throughout the protests. Hundreds had been brutally crushed by the police. NEXTA emerged because the main on-line outlet coordinating the demonstrations.

Backed by Mr. Putin and utilizing extraordinary violence, Mr. Lukashenko managed to efficiently crack down on protesters, with the nation’s safety equipment remaining loyal to him.

Ms. Tikhanovskaya, Mr. Lukashenko’s most important opponent over the past presidential election in August, which was broadly thought to be rigged, known as the episode with the Ryanair flight “an operation by the special services to hijack an aircraft in order to detain activist and blogger Roman Protasevich.”

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