Belarus ‘hijacking’: EU leaders discuss punitive measures against Lukashenko | DW News

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  • DW News published this video item, entitled “Belarus ‘hijacking’: EU leaders discuss punitive measures against Lukashenko | DW News” – below is their description.

    EU leaders are meeting to consider new sanctions against Belarus, after authorities in Minsk forced a Ryanair plane to land, and arrested a passenger on board.

    Exiled Belarusian activist Roman Protasevich was travelling from Greece to Lithuania when the aircraft was diverted to Belarus – escorted by a fighter jet – because of an alleged bomb threat. The incident has sparked global outrage, with Western leaders describing it as a ‘hijacking’ and ‘aviation piracy’. Ireland and Ryanair say security agents were on the flight and left after it touched down in Minsk. Belarus rejects the accusations as “unfounded.”

    The crowd at Vilnius airport – waiting for hours for a plane that finally arrived – without Roman Protasevich on board. A message from the regime in Belarus – critics aren’t safe anywhere – even in the air.

    Protasevich was living in exile. He is a co-founder of NEXTA, a channel on the Telegram messaging app, which was used to help organize protests against the Belarusian government.

    On Sunday the Ryanair flight he was on had almost reached Vilnius when if was forced to make a U-turn and head – with military escort seen here – to Minsk.

    Passengers described an hours-long ordeal on the ground in Minsk – that started off with Belarusian police taking Protasevich into custody.

    European and US diplomats quickly condemned the arrest – as well as the diversion of the plane.

    EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, “The outrageous and illegal behaviour of the regime in Belarus will have consequences.” She continued: “Those responsible for the Ryanair hijacking must be sanctioned.”

    European leaders are discussing suspending transport links between Belarus and the EU as well as suspending Belarusian overflights. Other sanctions are in the works – an effort to make the regime pay for its defiance of international and human rights law.

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