Disinfo: Belarus defended Europe against a terror attack, allowing the Ryanair plan to land at Minsk

Summary

Belarus defended Europe. When a bomb was reported on board the Ryanair plane, the crew contacted Minsk and requested urgent landing, while Vilnius was much closer. President Lukashenka immediately gave the order to redirect the aircraft and receive it at Minsk. The priority in this situation was the lives and safety of the passengers. /.../ No matter what the political situation is, unlike our Western neighbours, Belarus cannot be called a country that refuses help in an urgency.

Disproof

Ryanair flight FR4978 was intercepted by military jets while en route from Athens to Vilnius. Minsk air control reported a bomb threat and requested the aircraft divert to Minsk. A Belarus Air Force MiG-29 forced the plane to divert to Minsk, while Vilnius airport was much closer.

At Minsk airport, a Belarusian opposition journalist, wanted in Belarus for unfounded charges of extremism, was arrested. His companion was detained as well. The plane was kept at the airport for seven hours before allowed to continue to Vilnius.

As a consequence the European Council demanded immediate release of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega and called on the International Civil Aviation Organization to investigate the incident. Further individual and economic sanctions are planned, as well as banning overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines. Multiple airlines are avoiding Belarus airspace.

The incident is investigated as an act of terrorism by Lithuanian authorities.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 245
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 24/05/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Lithuania, Belarus
  • Keywords: Terrorism, Ryanair Flight 4978

Belarus

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Disinfo: Forcing down aircraft is common practice among special forces

Special forces of many countries divert or force aircraft to land in order to detain people of interest. Not only the Americans are known for this, but Israel, Turkey, Iran...

Disproof

The case with Ryanair FR4879 is unique, as the aircraft was intercepted by military fighter-jets, armed with air-to-air missiles. At no earlier occasion have national authorities mobilised the military in such a way to detain a wanted criminal.

Background:

Disinfo: Pratasevich could tell how the West supported and coordinated protests in Belarus

The detention of the founder of the NEXTA Telegram channel Roman Pratasevich looks like a good-planned operation of Belarusian special forces. Minsk hopes that Pratasevich could tell a lot about how the West supported and coordinated protests in Belarus. It could influence his further fate.

The operation was risky but today in the context of big geopolitical interests all play a game without rules. In this case, the end of Pratasevich story justifies the means.

Disproof

Recurring disinformation narrative about the West being behind protests in Belarus.

The protests in Belarus erupted to contest the results of the presidential election on 9 August 2020, which were not monitored by independent experts, and are largely considered fraudulent by both international observers and a big part of the Belarusian society. On 19 August 2020, the European Council called Belarusian elections neither free nor fair.

Disinfo: The captain of the Ryanair flight decided to land in Minsk, because it was the nearest airport

According to international rules, Minsk turned out to be the nearest airport, and according to these same international rules, the captain of the flight decided to land in Minsk. It was the decision of the captain of the flight.

Disproof

Disinformation about the Ryanair flight 4978.

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, the Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to turn back minutes before crossing the Lithuanian border and land in the Belarusian capital. The pretext for landing in Minsk was a false report about the bomb on board. At the moment when the plane changed course, it was closer to Vilnius airport than to Minsk. The plane was forced to land in the Belarusian capital by a Belarusian military aircraft. To land in the Belarusian capital was not the Ryanair pilots' decision.

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