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Current Affairs

Belarus hijacks plane to arrest journalist

Date: 26 May 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been facing international criticism for forcing a commercial airliner to change its path and land in his country to hand over a critic.

 

Background

The Ryanair airliner was flying from Greece to Lithuania when an alleged bomb-scare forced the airliner to go to Belarus.

 

Details

  • Western leaders have threatened Lukashenko of dire consequences for his actions. The opposition members have also denounced the move by a head of the state.

  • The arrested journalist was Roman Protasevich, who is one of the most vocal critics of the President and currently living an exiled life in Lithuania.

  • The government has accused Protasevich of social hatred and inciting public disorder. He is also designated as a terrorist and will face death penalty if found guilty.

 

The Belarus conflict

  • The Eastern European and former soviet country of Belarus has been witnessing protest from its citizens after its President Lukashenko claimed victory in a highly controversial election.

  • Lukashenko has been ruling the nation since its independence from Soviet Union and this is his sixth straight term at the helm of affairs.

 

Roman Protasevich

  • Protasevich has founded an independent media outlet known as NEXTA on Telegram, which serves as an independent news source for the residents.

  • The media outlet has become a platform for opposition to gather and organise against the regime of Lukashenko.

  • Protasevich has been part of dissident group from his teenage years. He was expelled from his school as well as university for participating in protest rallies.

  • He fled Belarus for Lithuania where he gained political asylum. He continued his journalism against Lukashenko regime from his new place of hiding.

 

The unfolding of events

  • Protasevich had attended an economic conference in Athens and was returning to Lithuania on the commercial airliner.

  • The plane was intercepted by Belarusian Air force plane near the border with Lithuania and made to land in Minsk.

  • Lukashenko was directly responsible for giving the orders to make the plane do a U-turn and return to Minsk to capture the journalist.