EU leaders must respond with unity and determination to state hijacking of Ryanair flight and detention of Roman Protasevich
The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament strongly condemns the violation of international law by the Belarusian authorities in the case of the diverted Ryanair flight, forced to land in the Belarus capital Minsk so the opposition blogger Roman Protasevich could be arrested.
We call on the EU leaders, meeting tomorrow in Brussels for the European Council, to hold the government of Belarus responsible for this unprecedented act and to respond accordingly.
Protasevich, linked to the opposition Telegram news channel NEXTA, which is hostile to Aliaksandr Lukashenka, was flying from Athens on a commercial Ryanair flight bound for Vilnius, when the aircraft was forced to change direction and land in Minsk over an alleged security threat. Roman Protasevich is living and working in Lithuania. The Telegram channel NEXTA is on the winners’ list of the Sakharov Prize awarded in 2020 by the European Parliament to the democratic opposition in Belarus.
Renew Europe MEP, Petras Auštrevičius (Lithuanian Liberal Movement), the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Belarus, said:
“Such a terrorist-like act of Lukashenka‘s regime, risking the lives of more than 170 passengers, EU citizens included, is an international crime and a continuation of repression against the Belarusian people.”
MEP Hilde Vautmans (Open Vld, Belgium), Renew Europe’s coordinator in Foreign Affairs Committee, added:
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the forced landing of a civilian passenger plane in Minsk, a dangerous and irresponsible act by the Lukashenka regime.
The brutality of Lukashenka is unprecedented and cannot be tolerated. The EU must respond firmly to this despicable crime and the ongoing repression and silencing of the opposition in Belarus. Roman Protasevich must be released immediately.”
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