Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, former editor of the main Belarusian opposition NEXTA Telegram channel and incumbent editor of the Belarus of the Brain Telegram channel, was detained in Minsk.
The flight from Athens to Vilnius with Protasevich on board was forced to land at the airport of the capital of Belarus. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) informed about the detention.
“Roman Protasevich was detained. He was on a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius. The plane made an emergency landing at Minsk’s airport,” the BAJ Telegram channel reports.
Maria Avdeeva, Research Director at the European Expert Association, notes, “Belarus is becoming a grey area where no international law acts. A Ryanair plane en route from Athens to Vilnius was landed at the Minsk airport after it had received a bomb threat. Lukashenka ordered a jet fighter to escort the passenger plane. Roman Protasevich, the former editor of the opposition Telegram channel, was on board. He was detained. In Belarus, Protasevich faces the death penalty on terrorism charges. Lukashenka continues to crack down on the media landscape in Belarus. It seems that the next step will be the murder of political opponents in other countries and international terrorism.”
So far, the Lithuanian authorities officially reported on the “kidnapping of a journalist” as not all passengers were able to fly from Minsk to Vilnius after the plane had been searched. Lithuania appealed to the EU with a request to ban flights over Belarus and deprive it of membership in the International Civil Aviation Organisation.