Tag Archives: MIG29

Belarus: Borrell demands investigation

Brussels 24.05.2021 Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell called for an international investigation after Belarus forced a Ryanair passenger jet to land in Minsk, in an apparent effort to arrest an activist journalist.
“In carrying out this coercive act, the Belarusian authorities have jeopardised the safety of passengers and crew,” Borrell said in a statement issued on Monday, May 24, the following day after the incident.

“An international investigation into this incident must be carried out to ascertain any breach of international aviation rules,” the statement went on.

The Belarusian Transport Ministry on Monday announced it had set up a commission to carry out its own investigation into the forced landing and would publish the results soon, according to a report by the Russian RIA news agency.

EU to discuss incident at summit
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said EU leaders will discuss the incident at an EU summit beginning on Monday, adding that the affair would not remain “without consequences.”

Michel called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the detained passenger – the 26-year-old journalist Roman Protasevich who worked for Poland-based online news service NEXTA, which broadcast footage of protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) last year during presidential elections mass protests.

An EU spokesman said the leaders would discuss “possible sanctions” on Belarus. High-level officials in the country have already been sanctioned by the bloc over the brutal repression of the opposition, protesters and journalists following disputed elections in August 2020. More than 34,000 people have been arrested in the country since August, and thousands have been brutally mistreated.

Protasevich was traveling by commercial airline RyanAir from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, when the Belarusian air force sent a fighter jet. The flight, on Irish airline Ryanair, was diverted and escorted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the millennial opposition figure was taken into custody.

Protasevich was returning to Vilnius from an economic conference in Greece with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Greek officials said.

The flight, which had been carrying some 170 passengers, should have taken about three hours. As it approached the border between Belarus and Lithuania, a MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept it.

Lukashenko, who is often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator,” personally ordered the fighter jet MiG29 to escort the Ryanair plane to the Minsk airport after a bomb threat alert, his press service said. According to the statement, Lukashenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, gave an “unequivocal order” to “make the plane do a U-turn and land.”

EU: Belarus “inadmissible” act

Brussels 24.05.2021 European governments accused Belarus of engaging in an act of state terrorism after it forced a commercial jetliner Ryanair to make an emergency landing in Minsk after a purported bomb threat and then arrested an opposition blogger critical of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Raman Pratasevich, a former editor of the influential Telegram channels Nexta and Nexta Live, was detained by police after his Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was diverted over Belarusian airspace when the Minsk government said Lukashenko ordered his military to scramble a MiG-29 fighter to escort the plane.

“I’m facing the death penalty here,” a trembling Pratasevich was reported to tell a fellow passenger before Belarusian police led him away.

The Minsk government has accused Pratasevich of terrorism and provoking riots after the Nexta channels became one of the main conduits for organizing last year’s anti-Lukashenko protests over election fraud.

Lukashenko won his sixth term in the August election with a claimed 80% of the vote, although many in the country accused him of widespread corruption in the election.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the Irish passenger jet had been hijacked and accused Lukashenko of a “reprehensible act of state terrorism.” Morawiecki said he would demand new sanctions against Belarus at a European Council meeting on Monday.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “We are coordinating with our allies. This outlandish action by Lukashenko will have serious implications.”

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda wrote on Twitter, “Unprecedented event! The regime is behind the abhorrent action. I demand to free Roman Protasevich urgently!”

Pratasevich was flying from Athens to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, when the plane was diverted to Minsk.

The head of NATO has joined the leaders of several EU countries in demanding an investigation into the diversion on May 23 of a Lithuanian-bound flight to Minsk, where authorities arrested one of its passengers, opposition activist and journalist Raman Pratasevich.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance was closely monitoring the “forcible landing” of the flight from Athens to Vilnius in Belarus and the reported detention of Pratasevich.

“This is a serious and dangerous incident which requires international investigation. Belarus must ensure safe return of crew and all passengers,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter micro blog.

Ryanair said the flight arrived safely in Vilnius on May 23 after a delay in Minsk of several hours. The Irish airline said earlier that “nothing untoward” had been found after it was notified of a potential security threat on board by Belarus air traffic control and instructed to divert.

Russia delivers MiG-29 fighters to Serbia

Russia has kept its promise to deliver six Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters to Serbia, which was timed to coincide with the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from Nazi Germany, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said, according to TASS news agency.

The Russian defense minister made this statement at a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vulin.

“In August, when you were in Moscow, I promised that by the time of this celebration the planes will arrive in Belgrade. Now planes are in Belgrade. I am sure that they will serve as a reliable shield and a guarantor of Serbia’s independence and security,” Shoigu said.

The six MiG-29 fighter jets have been delivered to Serbia by decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was reported earlier that the six MiG-29 fighters had flown from Russia to Serbia in early October.