Upon request by EU High Representative Josep Borrell, the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino, summoned the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the European Union, Aleksandr Mikhnevich, to condemn the "inadmissible step" of the Belarusian authorities, who forced a civilian plane to perform an emergency landing in Minsk and detained its passenger Mr Raman Pratasevich, an independent Belarusian journalist and activist.
That's according to a press release by the External Action Service, seen by UNIAN.
Ambassador Mikhnevich was informed of the "firm condemnation" by the EU institutions and EU Member States of the "coercive act" by the Belarusian authorities which have "jeopardised the safety of passengers and crew."
Secretary-General Sannino conveyed to the envoy the EU's position that the outrageous action by Belarusian government constitutes "another blatant attempt to silence all opposition voices in the country "and demanded the "immediate release of Mr Pratasevich."
The "unacceptable act will be raised at today's meeting of the European Council," the press release says.
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Forced landing of Ryanair plane and Roman Protasevich's arrest
- On May 23, 2021, a Ryanair plane flying en route from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, was diverted and forced to land at Minsk airport, Belarus. After landing, the country's authorities arrested co-founder of Telegram's opposition channel NEXTA, Roman Protasevich (Raman Pratasevich), who was on board the plane.
- Leader of the Belarusian opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (Svetlana Tikhanovskaya) responded to the incident. "The regime forced the landing Ryanair plane in Minsk to arrest journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich. He faces the death penalty in Belarus. We demand immediate release of Raman, ICAO investigation, and sanctions against Belarus," she said on Twitter on May 23.
- There were immediate reports that President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko had sent a MiG-29 fighter jet to intercept the Ryanair plane with the ex-chief editor of NEXTA on board.
- That country's Defense Ministry confirmed the interception of the plane.
- President of the European Council Charles Michel insists it will be essential that ICAO investigate the Minsk incident.
- The European Union said the landing of a Ryanair plane flying en route from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, had been forced by a Belarusian military aircraft.