Airlines Avoid Belarusian Airspace over Plane Diversion, Arrest of Journalist

Airlines Avoid Belarusian Airspace over Plane Diversion, Arrest of Journalist”

He was arrested and, in a video released by Belarusian authorities on Monday evening, appeared to admit he was involved in organising mass protests in Minsk past year. "It's clear that he was reading something out that he was told to read out", he said.

The Government of the Republic of Belarus has announced it will be closing its embassy in Canada, just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned Belarusian authorities over the forced diversion of a passenger jet to arrest an opposition journalist.

From their new home in Poland, the parents of Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich have been in anguish since he was seized after his flight was forced to land in Minsk.

Belarus's regime was increasingly isolated on Tuesday as Europe cut air links and calls grew for stronger action over its diversion of an airliner and arrest of a dissident on board.

They demanded Pratasevich's release and urged European carriers to avoid Belarus' airspace. Polish carrier LOT and Baltic airlines have begun bypassing Belarus.

The move to limit flights from Belarus reflected the anger among European countries and people's belief that there must be consequences for Lukashenko, whose government has already face repeated volleys of sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union needed to "profoundly redefine" its relationship with Russian Federation and Belarus because "we are at the limits of sanctions policy".

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, among other world leaders, called the incident "state hijacking", and France and Ireland have described it as piracy.

More news: Georgian Foreign Ministry on Belarus Flight Diversion

"This is a state hijacking and demonstrates how the regime in Minsk attacks basic democratic rights and cracks down on freedom of expression and independent media", he said, adding that an urgent worldwide investigation was needed. Psaki during Tuesday's briefing indicated that Belarus would be discussed.

"Most leaders of Belarus' political parties have been either jailed or forced to flee the country", said Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights centre. He added that he was giving evidence to investigators about organizing mass disturbances.

Speaking to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Stsiapan Putsila, another Nexta co-founder, said he and his colleagues have received "thousands of threats" in the past to blow up their office in the Polish capital.

US President Joe Biden salutes as he arrives at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Delaware May 25, 2021.

Putsila said that the group relies on police protection and undertake "all the possible safety measures to minimize threats and carry out our everyday work".

Belarus has been rocked by months of protests, which were triggered by Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that the opposition rejected as rigged.

Biden on Monday said he supported the EU's push to sanction Belarus and called for Protasevich's immediate release, adding that his administration would "develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible, in close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners, and worldwide organizations". It's yet another shocking assault on human rights and freedom of the press by the Belarusian authorities.

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