G7 Calls for 'Immediate and Unconditional' Release of Belarus Journalist

G7 Calls for 'Immediate and Unconditional' Release of Belarus Journalist”

Ahead of closed-door talks between the two strongmen leaders in Sochi on Friday, Lukashenko told Putin while gesturing to a briefcase that he brought documents to show Russian Federation "what is going on" regarding the incident.

In the Polish capital, Warsaw, where they fled months ago, the parents of journalist Roman Protasevich, who was detained after a forced plane landing in Belarus on Sunday, pleaded for worldwide help to secure their son's release.

In his first public statement since the Ryanair flight was diverted and opposition journalist Roman Protasevich arrested on Sunday, Lukashenko dismissed the global outcry the incident provoked. The Belarus strongman, who arrived with a briefcase, said he wanted to show Putin "some documents" related to the Ryanair incident and thanked him for his support in the latest standoff with the West.

A plane carrying Morales from Moscow was diverted and held up in Vienna for hours amid suspicions fugitive USA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.

Several people died in the unrest, with many reporting torture and abuse in custody.

On May 23, 2021, Ryanair's Boeing 737, registered as SP-RSM, operating flight FR4978 from Athens (ATH), Greece, to Vilnius (VNO), Lithuania, was hailed by Belarusian air traffic control, claiming a bomb was planted in the aircraft.

He said Belarus had confirmed that five passengers disembarked in Minsk, and that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Poland had also launched inquiries into the incident, as they had had citizens on board the flight.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday there was no reason to disbelieve Lukashenko's version of events.

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But Proton Technologies, which is based in Geneva, said the message was sent after the plane had already been diverted. "We love you and we'll get you out of there", said Protasevich.

The United States and western European members of the UN Security Council have called for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to investigate Belarus' diversion of the Ryanair flight.

Once the plane landed, Protasevich - the 26-year-old co-founder of opposition Telegram channel Nexta that coordinated protests last year against Lukashenko - and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega were arrested. His father said the confession was coerced. Borrell has said proposals are "on the table" to target key sectors of the Belarusian economy including its oil products and potash sectors.

After meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, Tikhanovskaya said measures being discussed by European Union countries to target Belarusian economic sectors did not go far enough.

The Belarusian opposition has called for stronger measures. European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned Lukashenko that "it is time to change course".

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has continued to insist that he ordered the diversion, which involved the scrambling of an air force MiG-29 fighter to enforce cooperation by the Ryanair pilots, in reaction to an alleged report of a bomb aboard the aircraft.

Estonia called meanwhile for a stop to the "flow of money" to Lukashenko.

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