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On May 23, a plane of RyanAir airlines flying from the Athens to Vilnius carried out an emergency landing at the Minsk airport, following a bomb alert. This is widely claimed to be a special operation ordered by President Alexandr Lukashenko aimed at arrest of one of opposition figures Roman Pratasevich, who was on board. However, a closer look at the incident and the newly-released data prove that other forces could be behind this ‘special operation’.
Reports about the explosive device on board were not confirmed. Passengers took another flight. Everyone except Protasevich, his girlfriend to whom he handed his personal belongings, including a laptop and a phone, and four Russian citizens, “who were GRU officers for sure “.
Roman Protasevich is one of the main figures of Belarus opposition, a co-founder of the Telegram channel Nexta that was used for coordination of mass protests since August 2020.
One of the main proofs that the incident was a planned operation of Belarus special forces is the publication on his Telegram channel of his private message, where cautious Protasevich described a suspicious Russian man, who tried to take a photo of his documents before landing. The authors of the channel consider this as proof that Roman Protasevich began to be followed back in Athens.
“I was silent, and he turned to me in Russian with some stupid question,” – Protasevich wrote to his friends. “Such a middle-aged, fit, with a bald head. In one T-shirt, in light-colored pants and a leather case.”
A closer look at the chronology of events casts doubts on the claims of a “special operation” of special forces.
The crew commander of the aircraft of the RyanAir company informed Minsk about the mining on May 23, at 12:50 local time. At that moment the plane was already near the Lituanian border, but the pilots decided to act in accordance with the international security instructions and requested a landing in Minsk.
A recording of the pilots’ call with the dispatcher has been recently published online. It confirmed that it was pilots’ decision to land in Minsk. At this moment, Minsk airport received an e-mail about the bomb on board. The crew’s decision to land in Minsk was also confirmed by reports from the communications department of the Lithuanian International Airport.
Immediately after the call, the information was reported to President Lukashenko, who gave the command to take measures and secure the landing. The air forces of Belarus reacted to the emergency in according with international standards. The MIG-29 was following the aircraft in order to provide assistance if necessary.
As soon as the plane landed, passengers were evacuated, after which sappers and rescue services were deployed. At the same time, passengers were screened in accordance with safety standards.
Exactly at that moment, a photo of Protasevich appeared online with reports about his arrest. It was published by the assistant of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on his Twitter account. According to reports, the photo was allegedly sent to the “opposition team” by Protasevich’s girlfriend, who was flying with him, for internal use, but they rushed to post it on the Internet even before official reports of his arrest.
BREAKING! The regime landed @Ryanair plane, which was flying from Athens to Vilnius,in order to arrest the famous Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich. In Belarus, he faces the death penalty. Belarus has seized a plane,put passengers in danger, in order to repress an opponent pic.twitter.com/TEv22to5XM
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) May 23, 2021
Meanwhile, the so-called ‘special operation’ was carried out right on the eve of the first offline European Summit, where the European diplomats are going to have a strategic debate on Russia. What a coincidence!
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, following the results of the EU summit on May 24, will have to prepare a report on relations with Russia.
Hype in global media platforms based on accusations of Lukashenko in neglecting international norms and in ‘international terrorism’, is aimed to have an impact on the results of the summit. European countries were going to discuss new restrictions against Minsk before the incident, but after an international scandal, this topic may become the main one on the forum’s agenda.
The European Union is considering the closure of not only air, but also ground communication with Belarus in response to the actions of President Lukashenko, Bloomberg reported, citing a senior European official close to negotiations on new EU sanctions against Belarus.
Under any international legal law, the detainee Protasevich should be considered a criminal. The decision of the European leaders to protect him would be another case of double standard policies of the EU and would cut off the last opportunities for normalization of relationships with Belarus and Russia.
Roman Protasevich is charged under articles on mass riots, organizing and preparing actions that roughly violate public order, as well as inciting racial, national, and religious hatred. Protasevich is included in the KGB list of organizations and individuals involved in terrorist activities. He not only supervised the work of the extremist Telegram channel, but also coordinated the actions of radical groups, stuffing the information space with fakes in order to raise a protest wave.
His detention does not change the essence of the charges. The investigation will simply be carried out in his presence. Belarus opposition leaders say he could face the death penalty.
The incident took place right after another media scandal involving the Belarus opposition.
Russian prankers Vovan and Lexus has recently talked to the leadership of the U.S. agency National Endowment for Democracy (NED), impersonating the former presidential candidate of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her assistant.
Fund President Karl Gershman told the pranksters that NED has close cooperation with the Russian opposition, including Leonid Volkov, the head of the regional headquarters of the Anti-Corruption Foundation. According to Gershman, the new US administration has a “great willingness to help” the Russian and Belarus opposition.
A new international scandal representing President Lukashenko as a tyrant, and a defenseless opposition as a victim of his impunity, is aimed to distracts public attention from unveiling of the activities of American NGOs, in particular NED, as well as the true face of Tikhanovskaya and her team.
At the moment, there are two main versions regarding the incident with RyanAir aircraft:
- Either this is a really high-profile operation of the Belarusian special forces aimed at detaining a young activist, which has no impact on the trial and does not even affect the work of his Telegram channel.
- Either it is an operation by the Belarus opposition forces supported by their Western allies, which in the end is likely to lead to more sanctions and an increase in the rift between the West and the East in Europe.
At the moment, the available data on the incident confirm the higher probability of the second option. This version is supported by the chronology of events, the release of his private photographs before boarding the plane, the pilots’ reports, the independent decision of the crew to land in Minsk in accordance with international rules.
It is likely that the entire case may have been provoked by one of the factions of Western-linked ‘Belarusian opposition’. These groups remain in the state of the permanent struggle for money and back-patting of their ‘Western partners’. Therefore, Belarus authorities may have received the data about the movement of Protasevich from his own colleagues that wanted to escalate the situation and motivate their sponsors to make more active actions (and allocate additional funding and resources for the ‘fight for democracy’ in Belarus).
Mr. Protasevich has highly likely become another sacred victim in the confrontation of forces in Europe.
It is also possible that his “comrades-in-arms” in the opposition camp simply handed him over to the Belarusian authorities as a result of an internal conflict connected, for example, with the distribution of finances among the opposition leaders, since the problem of funding is acute in the opposition team, which by the way was once again confirmed during the conversation between representatives of the US NED agency and allegedly Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Anyway, the current reaction of the EU and NATO officials has already proved the double standard policy of the so-called collective West, as well as their commitment to manipulate the international law.
Closely monitoring forcible landing in #Belarus of flight to Vilnius & reported detention of opposition figure Roman Protasevich. This is a serious & dangerous incident which requires international investigation. Belarus must ensure safe return of crew & all passengers.
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) May 23, 2021
Demonizing Lukashenko, everyone forgets about the similar precedent with a the Boeing of Belavia, which was operating a flight on Kiev – Minsk route, and was forced to return to the airport of departure in 2016.
50 kilometers before entering the airspace of Belarus, the aircraft commander received an instruction from the Ukrainian dispatcher to immediately return to the airport of departure without explaining any reason. It was also stated that in case of non-fulfillment of the command, Ukrainian fighters will be raised into the air.
After landing at the Zhulyany international airport, Ukrainian law enforcement officers detained one passenger who was a citizen of Armenia.
There was no international reaction to the incident at all.
Meanwhile, the landing of RayanAir aircraft in Minsk reminded the special operation of Ukrainian forces aimed to capture the plane with the alleged Wagner PMC members on board in 2020.
Shit. Lukashenko copied part of Ukraine’s 2020 (unfinished) sting operation, forced a @Ryanair plane to land in Minsk under a false bomb threat pretense, and arrested the former chief editor of opposition platform NEXTA. https://t.co/N9LDj2eJG0
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) May 23, 2021
But this was another story… sure.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Belarus Scrambles Fighter Jet, Forces Civilian Plane To Land And Arrests Opposition Figure
- The Lack Of Due Process In Ukraine, No conspiracy Complete without “Wagner”
- CIA Sponsored The SBU Operation To Kidnap 33 Russians In Belarus