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23 May, 31 tweets, 24 min read
#Belarus Scrambles Jet to Force Down Plane Carrying #Dissident

‘The dissident, Roman #Protasevich, co-founded a Telegram channel that is a popular opposition outlet in Belarus. The plane was flying from Athens to Lithuania when it was forced down.’

#Pratasevich is the founder of the Telegram channel #Nexta which was broadly used to organize anti- government #protests, and another similar channel critical of the government, both of which are classified as extremist in #Belarus.”

“… #Pratasevich is also on a government wanted list for terrorism. There are differing reports as to why the budget airline Ryanair plane was forced to land.”

#Belarus forces Ryanair plane to land to detain opposition blogger’

‘Belarusian President Alexander #Lukashenko ordered the flight carrying Roman #Protasevich, headed to Lithuania, to land in Minsk.’

“…The aircraft, flying over #Belarus from Athens to Vilnius, had almost reached Lithuania when it changed direction and was escorted to Minsk amid reports that it had explosives on board …

No explosives were found, BelTA said.”

‘Belarusian Journalist Arrested After His Flight Diverted To Minsk By Military Fighter Jet’

“The watchdog Reporters Without Borders has designated Belarus as the most dangerous spot in Europe for journalists.”

“Exiled opposition leader Sviatlana #Tsikhanouskaya described #Protasevich as a ‘journalist, photographer, blogger and activist,’ saying he ‘faces the death penalty’ in #Belarus. …

The Belarus government regards #Nexta as ‘extremist’ and has made…”

“… has made reposting information from the outlet punishable.

Minsk added #Protasevich to a list of ‘individuals involved in terrorist activity’ last year. He also faces several other criminal charges including inciting hatred against the government.”

#Belarus accused of ‘unprecedented act of state terrorism’ after flight diverted and activist arrested’

‘Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania diverted to Minsk.’

“While boarding the plane in Athens, #Protasevich noticed he was being photographed …”

“…Giczan said those taking the photographs were agents from #Belarus’ intelligence agency & that when the plane entered Belarusian airspace, the security operatives ‘initiated a fight with the Ryanair crew,’ insisted there was an explosive device on board and forced the crew…”
“‘It is absolutely obvious this is an operation by the special services to #hijack an aircraft in order to detain activist & blogger Raman #Pratasevich,’ she said in a statement. ‘Not a single person who flies over #Belarus can be sure of his safety.’”

#Protasevich, who has been living in exile since 2019, told colleagues earlier Sunday he had been followed while travelling to the airport in Athens. A Russian speaker had followed him into a line at the airport and attempted to photograph his documents”

#Nexta editor-in-chief, Tadeusz Giczan, tweeted a quote from a passenger on the plane who said that Mr #Protasevich had told them who he was once they were on the ground at Minsk, with him adding ‘they'll execute me here’. …”

“… Belta, the state-owned news agency in #Belarus, said Mr #Lukashenko had personally given the order for the plane to land in Minsk following the bomb alert, and that a MiG-29 fighter jet had been despatched to accompany the Ryanair plane.”

‘Brian Whitmore: Time to sanction the Putin-#Lukashenko ‘axis of autocrats’’

“it is time to broaden the aperture on sanctions against Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr #Lukashenka in order to include his enablers in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

“Lithuania and traditional Russian ally #Belarus are neighbours and former members of the Soviet Union. Lithuania is now a member of the European Union. Belarus is not.”

#Belarus Slammed for 'Reprehensible' Forced Landing of Lithuania-Bound Ryanair Flight Carrying Activist’

#Protasevich “formerly worked for the opposition Telegram channel NEXTA… now works for a different Telegram channel, Belamova based in Lithuania.”

#Protasevich is a co-founder and former editor of NEXTA Telegram channel which, according to the Times, is one of the most popular opposition outlets in the country. Most independent media organizations were forced to shutter operations”

‘Did #Belarus 'hijack' a civilian airliner to detain an activist?’

“Just why the plane suddenly changed course depends on whose account one believes.”

“European leaders on Monday were taking steps to cut off air connections with #Belarus, barring airlines from flying over the country a day after its leaders forced a commercial jet to land and arrested a dissident journalist.”

‘E.U. and Britain move to impede #Belarus’s access to air travel in response to the seizure of a journalist.’

“prohibiting Belarusian airlines from operating in its airspace or landing at its airports”

“Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary accused #Belarus of ‘state-sponsored piracy,’ … he believed Belarusian #KGB agents were also on the flight that was carrying 26-year-old #Protasevich, who is wanted in Belarus on a variety of charges.”

“a video emerged in which Mr #Protasevich said he was in good health and seemingly confessed to crimes he had been charged with by the Belarusian state. But activists, … criticised the video and suggested it had been recorded under duress.”

"'We believe there were some KGB agents off-loaded at the airport as well,' he said, referring to the airport in Minsk.”

"'I was arrested by officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the national airport in Minsk ... I am in Detention Center No. 1 in Minsk. I can say that I have no health problems, including with my heart or any other organs,’ #Pratasevich said …”

“… #Pratasevich said in the video. 

The 26-year-old is wearing a black hoodie in the video and sits behind a table with a pack of cigarettes by his side. Some dark markings are visible on his forehead.”

“Government officials arrested Roman #Protasevich, 26, a journalist who co-founded a media outlet that has criticized the president. He could face up to 15 years in prison. A female companion was also arrested.”

“Once the Boeing 737-800 landed in #Minsk, passengers were kept onboard for an hour while patrol guards with dogs assembled outside. Guard dogs were brought onboard for a security check and then the passengers were escorted to a waiting room where they…”

“…they were ‘weren’t allowed to move, even go to the loo’…

they were stripped down & forced to undergo body searches. ‘It was the old tradition of the Russian, Soviet services” …describing being stripped of his boots & searched ‘all over’ by hand. ‘It was very unpleasant’.”
“The plane, the passengers and their luggage were searched for several hours. When the plane took off, Belarusian passenger Roman #Protasevich … wasn’t on board. Neither was his Russian girlfriend, who was travelling with him.”

‘How four 'Belarusian KGB agents tailed journalist Roman Protasevich onto Ryanair flight from Athens and argued with cabin crew over bogus bomb threat' before plane was forced to land under MiG-29 fighter jet escort ‘

“4 passengers also got off at Minsk”


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