Why did the Belarusian Air Force threaten to shoot down a passenger plane?

International Jun 10, 2021

A Ryanian flight from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania was forced by Belarusian Air force for an emergency landing in Minsk by spreading the rumours that it had bombs inside, also Belarus threatened the flight if they didn't land in Minsk they would shoot it down.

This diversion was done in order to arrest a 26 year old, exiled, opposition to the ruling government journalist Roman Protasevich on board, he reportedly told the other passengers that "I'm facing the death penalty" his co-worker Sofia also was arrested with him and State media stated that this was ordered by the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Why has this happened? To know the answers we need to travel back to the history of Belarus.

Belarus became an independent nation from the USSR in 1994. Since then Alexander Lukashenko has been in power and holds the post of President , through various malpractices and unfair means  many times he came into power. This has jeopardized the citizens and democracy over there.

So in order to gain their rights the citizens protests over there and Roman Protasevich was one of them who later on joined Poland based online news service 'Nexta' a completely reporting company against Lukashenko as an editor and in order to stop the spreading of the truth of his brutalness he banned the company Roman then went to exile and began to work for a telegram channel Belamova with the same aim.  To snatch and shut his voice Lukashenko ordered to arrest him. Before him many of the opposition figures were arrested and some flew into exile. One such blogger, Igor Losik, was arrested by the Belarusian authorities.

Now, Protasevich is accused of organising mass riots and creating hatred allegations which are denied by him. The police charged him to carry a sentence of upto 15 years. Many are worried not only about his freedom but also of his life since reports estimated that he is being highly tortured.

This arrest is facing a huge condemnation from all over the world. The European Union urged for the immediate release of Roman and full  investigation . The EU asked to be summoned at the NATO meeting.

Many EU countries have banned the airlines from flying over Belarus and promised future economic sanctions. The US has strongly condemned this act and may also imply sanctions in the near future.

As Putin and Lukashenko are considered to be amigos, Minsk can get support from Moscow.

Such sanctions may create a pressure on Lukashenko but the citizens in Belarus will be the most vulnerable to suffer the adverse effect of the sanctions. This is yet again an example of how the citizens suffer the most during any sort of crisis.

This article has been written by Pranjal Bhople  for The Paradigm

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