Disinfo: Hamas sent an e-email to Minsk airport threatening to blow up a Ryanair flight over Vilnius


The message about a bomb on-board of the Ryanair aircraft was sent via the e-mail to the Minsk National Airport, director of the Aviation Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications Artem Sikorsky said.

"On May 23, a written message was to the Minsk National Airport from an e-mail address protonmail.com in English with the following content:" We, the Hamas soldiers, demand that Israel cease fire in the Gaza Strip. We demand that the European Union renounce its support for Israel in this war. Delfi Economic Forum participants are known to return home on flight FR4978. There is a bomb on a plane. If you do not fulfill our demands, the bomb will explode on May 23 over Vilnius. "


Disinformation about the forced diversion and landing of Ryainair flight 4978 by the Belarusian authorities.

On 23 May, a Belarusian fighter jet intercepted Ryanair flight FR4987 en route from Athens to Vilnius. The Minsk Air Control demanded the flight to be redirected to Minsk, allegedly due to a bomb threat. As the plane landed, a dissident Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich was detained. No bombs were found.

Hamas spokesman denied his group had any knowledge or connection. There is also no evidence to substantiate the claims of the Belarusian offcial.

The EU condemned Belarusian action against civil plane and the detention of Pratasevich. In a declaration on behalf of the EU on the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021, the High Representative called for the immediate release of Mr Pratasevich. This was followed by a European Council statement, in which the EU leaders called for targeted individual and economic sanctions as well as to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by these.

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

The forced landing of the Ryanair flight has been widely condemned. See also the statement referring to the concerns of the UN Secretary General.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.