Tag Archives: Sofia Sapega

EU towards Belarus targeted sanctions

Brussels 09.06.2021 “…It is certainly the right moment to talk about Belarus. Belarus is again at the very top of the international agenda for the events that everybody knows and the continued repression by Lukashenko’s regime” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while addressing the Members of the European Parliament.

“This repression has been strongly condemned, as much as the massive human rights violations, which continue unabated since the past elections in August 2020, almost one year ago.

“The recent events are related with the hijacking of a European Union airplane flying between two European Union capitals, and forcing it to land in Minsk, with the intervention of a fighter jet, which is an act that overstepped many red lines. Not only it has jeopardised the security of over 100 passengers, but it has also challenged international rules relating with air transportation. The subsequent arrest of a young Belarusian journalist [Raman Pratasevich] as well as his partner [Sofia Sapega] is an abhorrent act. Their forced confessions on state television is another example of the flagrant violations of basic human rights that Lukashenko’s regime commit. It was certainly awful to watch these images of these people detained, crying and recognising in front of the state television like he has been committing I do not know how many crimes against Belarus. Believe me, it was a shameful image.

“We had to respond decisively against these images, against these facts, and already the day after the hijacking of the Ryanair flight, the European Council met, brought up this issue on the agenda and took decisions.

“The European Council called for additional sanctions, and for the first time they decided to include targeted economic sanctions. Until now all our sanctions [vis-a-vis Belarus] are usually taken on a personal basis, affecting individuals and entities, but not the whole economy of the country. This time the Council requested to take targeted economic sanctions.

“The Council also requested that all European Union-based air carriers avoid overflights of Belarus.

“It called also for adopting the necessary measures to ban overflight of the European Union airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to European Union airports of flights operated by such airlines. And I can tell you that these measures have already been adopted last week and I will give you some details about it.

“Listings of individuals and companies, including those involved in the Ryanair incident, are well on track for adoption and they will be adopted by written procedure in the following days.

“As mandated by the European Council, and together with the Commission, we have started [preparing] targeted economic sanctions as the Council requested. They will be adopted at the next Foreign Affairs Council, I hope that the technical work will be finished and it will be affecting critical sectors of the Belarusian economy. But the final decision belongs to the Member States; I hope they will be united on that.

“In the meantime, we will continue to address the human rights violations in international fora. Let us not forget that there are now, we calculate, almost 450 political prisoners in Belarus. This group includes journalists arrested for simply doing their jobs – informing, students, representatives of civil society and ordinary citizens who protested against their freedoms and rights being taken away by the regime.

“We have been contributing to the establishment of mechanism to hold the perpetrators of human rights violations responsible and we will continue to support the victims and look for the accountability of perpetrators.

“We have published a plan for a €3 billion economic and investment package in support of a democratic Belarus, sending a message of hope and support to the people of Belarus, showing the prospects for a more prosperous country once they come back to a democratic system. This should be a strong incentive for economic development, should the country change. This €3 billion economic plan will support it. This is a way of proving that we stand with the Belarusian people, and we will continue doing so in the future…”

EU bans Belarus flights

Brussels 07.06.2021 The Council on Juin 4 has decided to strengthen the existing restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus by introducing a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds. (Image above: illustration).

EU member states will therefore be required to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Belarusian air carriers, including as a marketing carrier.

Today’s decision follows up on the European Council conclusions of 24 and 25 May 2021, in which EU heads of state and government strongly condemned the unlawful forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021 endangering aviation safety.

The conclusions also condemned the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega, and called on the Council to adopt the necessary measures, including additional listings of persons and entities on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework, and further targeted economic sanctions.

“We renew our call in the strongest terms to release all political prisoners in Belarus” the president of the EU Council Charles Michel wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

Further sanctions on entities and individuals following rapidly in response to the interception of a passenger jet by Belarus, EU leaders on demanded the release of opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his companion, Sofia Sapega, Russian citizen, and called for a barrage of new sanctions against the government of strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

EU governments, which described the incident as state piracy, say they are looking at targeting sectors that play a central role in the Belarus economy, to inflict real punishment on President Alexander Lukashenko. They could include bond sales, the oil sector and potash, a big Belarusian export.

Hamas denies Minsk allegations

Brussels 25.05.2021 Palestinian radical movement denies accusations in involvement to Ryanair bomb threat.
Palestinian radical movement Hamas dismissed the Belarusian authorities’ statement on its possible link to the incident with a Ryanair jet, which made an emergency landing in Minsk on May 23 over a reported bomb threat, Reuters reports. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group “has nothing to do with that completely.”

“We don’t resort to these methods, which could be the doing of some suspicious parties that aim to demonize Hamas and foil the state of world sympathy with our Palestinian people and their legitimate resistance,” the Hamas spokesman was quoted by the news agency as saying.

A Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight that took off from Athens was forced to make an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport on Sunday after a reported bomb threat. The plane landed safely and no bomb was found onboard. Roman Protasevich, one of the co-founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, which was recognized as extremist in Belarus, was among the passengers. Protasevich, currently living in Lithuania and wanted in Belarus, was detained after the airliner had landed in the Belarusian capital. The plane left Minsk and continued on to Vilnius late on Sunday, May 23.

Belarus: EU bans flights

25.05.2021 European Council strongly condemns the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, Belarus, on 23 May 2021 endangering aviation safety, and the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.

The European Council:
– demands the immediate release of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega and that their freedom of movement be guaranteed;

– calls on the International Civil Aviation Organization to urgently investigate this unprecedented and unacceptable incident;
– invites the Council to adopt additional listings of persons and entities as soon as possible on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework;
– calls on the Council to adopt further targeted economic sanctions and invites the High Representative and the Commission to submit proposals without delay to this end;
– calls on all EU-based carriers to avoid overflight of Belarus;
– calls on the Council to adopt the necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines;
– stands in solidarity with Latvia following the unjustified expulsion of Latvian diplomats.
The European Council will remain seized of the matter.