The U.S. government condemns the forced landing of the Ryanair airline in Minsk. This was stated by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sunday, May 23.
“We strongly condemn the brazen and shocking act of the Lukashenko regime to reject a commercial flight and arrest a journalist,” the American diplomat said in a message posted on his Twitter page.
Blinken also stated the necessity of the international investigation of the incident. He stressed that U.S. authorities are negotiating with “their partners” further procedures over the incident in Minsk.
Earlier, on May 23, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. Senate Robert Menendez together with legislators from several EU countries, including parliamentarians from the UK, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany, issued a statement demanding the International Civil Aviation Organization to impose a ban on flights over Belarus.
The same day, Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated that those responsible for the Ryanair plane landing in Minsk should be sanctioned.
Earlier on Sunday, Ryanair airline’s plane, routing from Athens to Vilnius, grounded in Minsk airport due to a bomb threat. According to journalists, the message of a bomb threat was sent to the e-mail call center at the airport. A MiG-29 fighter was airborne to escort the plane.
Later that day, the plane flew from Minsk and landed in Vilnius. There were about 170 passengers from 12 countries on board, including more than 90 citizens of Lithuania, as well as citizens of the EU, Russia and Belarus.
It is also known that the Investigative Committee of Belarus has initiated criminal proceedings over a false report of bombing an aircraft.
Roman Protasevich, the founder of the Telegram channel Nexta, recognized extremist in Belarus, was on board the plane. He was detained after the plane landed. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic confirmed the fact of Protasevich’s detention at Minsk airport.
On March 27 the administration of the Investigative Committee in Minsk initiated a recognition of the Telegram channel Nexta as a foreign extremist organization and prohibition of its activity in the territory of Belarus.