The government of Belarus forced a Ryanair flight – flight FR4978, (with fighters) to divert to Minsk in order to arrest an opposition blogger who has been critical of authoritarian president, Roman Protasevich.
The government in Minsk confirmed that Alexander Lukashenko ordered his military to scramble a Mig-29 fighter to escort the plane to Minsk.
Ryanair said the closest airport was Minsk and that the situation had been “out of its hands”.
The Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania flight was flying in Belarusian airspace when it was force to fly to Minsk but was actually closer to Vilnius.
Source: Flightradar 24.
European Union statement:
I condemn in the strongest possible terms the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, Belarus, on 23 May 2021 and the reported detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich.
I call on Belarus authorities to immediately release the detained passenger and to fully guarantee his rights.
EU leaders will discuss this unprecedented incident tomorrow during the European Council.
The incident will not remain without consequences.