What happened in Belarus?And why a reporter got off the plane and escaped and was arrested
As civilian planes fled the airspace, Belarus’s isolation deepened, the European Union enacted new sanctions and officials expressed concern about the welfare of opposition journalists.
Roman Protasevich was arrested on Sunday because he was removed from a plane transferred to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in what the West calls a state-sponsored hijacking. The plane flew from Greece to Lithuania.
Take a quick look at how we got here:
Why does Belarus have objections?
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has been in power since 1994 and is the longest serving ruler in Europe.
He ruled a country of nearly 9.5 million people with an iron fist, controlled the media, and suppressed opposition movements and dissident voices.
After an election that is generally considered to have been rigged, he began his sixth five-year term in August 2020. His re-election triggered months of protests and opposition, and as many as 100,000 people regularly took to the streets of Minsk. Alley.
Since the beginning of the latest round of protests, demonstrations have been violently suppressed and tens of thousands of people have been arrested.
In April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Call on Belarus to end its barbaric acts against demonstrators.
The Viasna Human Rights Center in Belarus, More than 1,000 cases of torture have been recorded among detained demonstrators.
Lukashenko suppressed the opposition through rigorous police actions and kept most of the country’s economy under state control, which made Belarus an anomalous country in the new Soviet, and was cautious about the prosperity of NATO and the EU’s neighbors.
Who is the Roman Protasevich?
The 26-year-old dissident journalist has been a voice against Lukashenko since he was a teenager. His protests caused him to be expelled from the school and later reopened from the Belarusian State University, where he studied journalism.
He was appointed Vaclav Havel Journalism Researcher In 2017-18, Radio Free Europe and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly launched a joint project aimed at promoting an open society through journalism.
Protasevich co-founded the Nexta Live channel, which is based on the Telegram Messenger application and has more than one million subscribers. The channel was openly hostile to Lukashenko and played an important role in broadcasting opposition protests against the president in 2020.
It also broadcast police crackdowns during the protests.
In November last year, Protasevich and his Nexta co-founder were included on the list of individuals deemed to be involved in “terrorist activities,” and he was accused of organizing large-scale riots while working at Nexta. He was also accused of disrupting social order and inciting social hatred. These charges are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Media Solidarity, an organization supporting Belarusian journalists, stated that Protasevich fled Belarus for Poland in 2019 due to pressure from the authorities. He later moved to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also lived.
At the time of his arrest, Protasevich was writing for another Telegram app called Belamova.
Watch | Why Protasevich became the target of attack and the problems he may face:
How was Protasevich arrested?
Protasevich’s flight from Athens to Vilnius on Sunday.
The Belarusian flight controller told the crew of the Ryanair airliner that the bomb threatened to fly and ordered a landing, and the Belarusian authorities detained him. A Belarusian MiG-29 fighter was escorted to escort the plane.
He was seen in a short video clip broadcast on Belarusian State Television on Monday. He spoke quickly and said that he was testifying to organize a large-scale riot.
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, said that Protasevich’s brief appearance was “not reassuring because his face was clearly bruised, and it is likely that his appearance was not voluntary, and he The’confession’ of serious crimes was also forced.”
Watch | Protasevich video broadcast on Monday:
How is the international response?
The leaders of the European Union took extraordinary swift action at a summit on Monday. They agreed to prohibit Belarusian Airlines from using the airspace and airport of the G-27, impose sanctions on officials involved in the diversion of flights on Sunday, and urged ICAO to start investigations into the incident, some of which were described as state terrorism or Piracy.
They also demanded that Protasevich be released immediately.
Polish airlines LOT and Baltic Airlines began to bypass Belarus on Tuesday. Air France, KLM, Finnair, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have all stated that they will also avoid flying over the country.
The United Kingdom, which is no longer part of the European Union, also advises airlines not to fly over Belarus, while British Airways flights are avoiding the country.
Watch | Trudeau called the behavior of the Belarusian regime “heinous”:
What will happen now?
European Commission President Ursula von Delane said that the EU will adopt more sanctions against “companies and economic entities that provide funding for the regime.”
Some people say that more sanctions will not help ease the situation, but will only bring Belarus closer to Russia and reduce the impact of the European Union and other countries.
Independent Minsk political analyst Alexander Kraskowski said: “Lukashenko will become an increasingly easy prey for the Kremlin.”
“As a pariah country, Belarus will find it difficult to resist the Kremlin’s request for a single currency, deployment of air bases, and access to profitable Belarusian economic assets.”