Should you see this person, please inform the authorities in the EU, the U.S., the UK, India, Australia, Japan, or any other democratic and constitutional state. For the crime of air piracy and kidnapping, Belarus Dictator Alexander Lukashenko should be brought before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The politician’s main offences (besides his brutal oppression of the opposition), are, in short:
- Violation of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. The treaty gives third-country aircraft the right to fly over the territory of a foreign state without landing in that state. Ryanair flight FR4978, on its way from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced to land in Minsk under threat of military interference while crossing Belarus’ territory.
- Hijacking of a civil aircraft based on false claim. The Belarus government justified the forced stopover in Minsk following an alleged bomb threat. However, a device was never found when the aircraft was searched by special squads.
- Deprivation of liberty. About 130 crew members and passengers had to hold out for 5 hours in Minsk, until the plane was finally given permission to take off for the onward flight to Vilnius.
- Kidnapping. Opposition blogger, Roman Protasevich of news channel Nexta, a leading Lukashenko critic, was detained and not allowed to continue his journey to Vilnius, unlike the other passengers. Nothing is known about his current fate.
Democratic countries speak of “state terrorism”
Meanwhile, western countries have fiercely condemned Belarus for having kidnapped a jetliner flying over its territory. Poland's Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of an "act of state terrorism," while European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen called the intervention an abduction which will have “serious consequences”.
The "shocking act" by the government of Belarusian strongman, Alexander Lukashenko, has endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, "including U.S. citizens," U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said. Regarding detained opposition figure Roman Protasevich, Blinken said, "We call for the immediate release of the 26-year-old."
Moscow backs Minsk
In contrast, the closest ally of the Lukashenko regime, the Russian government, has a completely different view. "It is shocking that the West classifies the incident in Belarusian airspace as 'shocking,’” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook today (24MAY21). She added to this: “Western states have also committed hijackings, forced landings and illegal detentions in the past.”
In the meantime, the first airlines are avoiding Belarusian airspace; among them are Latvia-based Air Baltic and Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air. On Monday afternoon, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has issued a notice to all UK registered airlines ‘requesting that they avoid overflight’ of Belarus. Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics brought up a landing ban on flights by Belarusian airlines in the EU, in addition to economic sanctions and a closure of Belarusian airspace to international flights. This is supported by the French government that calls for the banning of all flights crossing Belarussian air space.
Strong punitive sanctions expected
At the two-day meeting of EU leaders, which began today (24May21), and will last until tomorrow evening, the hijacking is the top issue.
Because of the ongoing repression of the democracy movement in Belarus, the EU had already imposed sanctions last year against, among others, ruler Alexander Lukashenko. In total, almost 60 people from Belarus stand on the EU sanctions list. The punitive measures include entry bans and the freezing of assets. It is expected that much tougher sanctions will be discussed and approved by the EU leaders at their current summit.
1. A Lufthansa jetliner was searched in Minsk, Belarus, today (24MAY21), following a security alert. The airline said that it had issued a security notice to local authorities during boarding for
flight LH1487 to FRA. "We are following the instructions of the local authorities, who will inspect the aircraft again before departure," a Lufthansa spokesperson said. 5 crew and 51
passengers were affected.
Experts suspect the step to be of a tactical nature to retroactively legitimize the forced landing of the Ryanair aircraft based on an alleged bomb threat on Sunday.
2. EU leaders decided on Monday evening to close the block’s airspace for all Belarus-registered aircraft.
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