NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says that a forcible landing of a Ryanair passenger plane in Minsk, Belarus, requires an international probe.
"Closely monitoring forcible landing in #Belarus of flight to Vilnius & reported detention of opposition figure Roman Protasevich. This is a serious & dangerous incident which requires international investigation," he tweeted late on May 23.
He says Belarus must ensure the safe return of the crew and all passengers.
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.