Why are we talking about Roman Protasevich?
The 26-year-old activist and journalist Roman Protasevich has been organizing protests against the Belarusian government for many years. He was arrested many times for this reason. He fled the country in 2019 and has been organizing overseas demonstrations ever since. For example, he also distributes videos about police violence. He does this through the channels of millions of followers on the social media platform Telegram. Since November, he has been on the terrorist list of the KGB of the Belarusian Secret Service.
This weekend, Protasevich and Ryanair flew from Athens, the capital of Greece, to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The plane suddenly had to make an emergency landing because there would be a bomb on board. A fighter plane also flew from Belarus and took the plane to Minsk, the capital of Belarus. The reporter and his girlfriend were arrested there. The bomb threat proved to be false. Five hours later, the plane was allowed to fly back to Vilnius with the rest of the passengers.
According to the Russian journalist Iris de Graaf (Iris de Graaf), the arrest coincided with Belarusian President Lukashenko’s harsh treatment of the media. “Last week, among other things, two independent television stations shut down. Now, there are no more news channels broadcasting different voices from the government.”
Who found what?
The European leaders reacted immediately and were angry at what happened on Sunday. The Polish Prime Minister wrote on Twitter: “The hijacking of a passenger plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism.” The President of Lithuania said that this was an “attack on the entire EU.” The outgoing prime minister Rutte called it “unprecedented and unacceptable.”
Therefore, at an important meeting, the leaders of the 27 EU countries quickly made a decision: Belarus has gone too far, and measures must be taken. After the consultation, Rutte said: “I myself have never experienced such a rapid resolution of our problems as government leaders.” According to Rutte, EU leaders have “completely completed” Belarus.
how come? According to aviation expert Joris Melkert, the rules have clearly been broken. A country can force an airplane to land only when something obvious occurs. He said: “For example, if there is a hijacker on board who wants to crash the plane,”
Another factor is that the plane flies between two European capitals with many European passengers on board. According to Borel, the foreign prime minister of the European Union, Belarus jeopardized the safety of these passengers and crew.
Belarus stated that it did nothing wrong and that it was indeed dangerous. “We protect Europe from terrorist attacks.” They later withdrew the statement. Allied Russia also called the forced landing of the aircraft “completely reasonable.”
What should we do now?
The EU no longer allows Belarusian aircraft to land at EU airports, and they demand that European airlines no longer fly over Belarus. KLM no longer does this. This will cost Belarus a lot of money, because airlines need to pay for flying over a country.
The EU also hopes to release journalists and punish those who transfer the aircraft.
The European Union will announce economic penalties for Belarus later. Ruth said: “This country has many state-owned companies, so a lot of money has been made and flowed to the country. Therefore, the Belarusian summit will have economic measures.”
Protasevich has a video on social media in which Protasevich admitted that he was indeed guilty of organized riots. Many people said he was forced to record this video. Protasevich’s father thinks so too. He didn’t recognize his son’s way of speaking and said he could see his broken nose.
According to Iris, Protasevich could be sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment or even the death penalty as a result of a confession. “The latter happened recently to several people considered terrorists.” Belarus is the only European country that still executes the death penalty.