The Belarusian authorities acted “appropriately” by forcibly landing a Ryanair plane containing a dissident journalist at Minsk on Sunday. President Aleksandr Lukashenko said this in parliament on Wednesday, state media Belta writes. He reiterated the official statement that intervention as a result of a bomb threat would have been necessary to ensure the safety of the passengers. After the landing, one of them, 26-year-old journalist Roman Pratasevich, was arrested. He’s still stuck.
At home and abroad, the actions of the Belarusian authorities have responded critically in recent days. On Wednesday, the opposition proposed to prepare for new large-scale anti-government protests in the country. In a video posted on Instagram, exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya says: “There is nothing left to wait for – we must stop the terror once and for all.” At a summit in Brussels on Monday, European government leaders declared harsh sanctions against the country, including a flight ban for Belarusian airlines and a new round of economic sanctions.
Last summer, massive protests broke out in Belarus against President Alexander Lukashenko. He had recently declared victory in presidential elections that his opponents said had been faked.