DISINFO: ICAO investigation over the Ryanair flight incident is questionable because of UN's bias
  • Outlet: sputnik.by (archived)*
  • Date of publication: May 28, 2021
  • Article language(s): Russian
  • Reported in: Issue 247
  • Countries / regions discussed: Belarus, Russia, US, EU
UN Ryanair Flight 4978

DISINFO: ICAO investigation over the Ryanair flight incident is questionable because of UN's bias


The International Civil Aviation Organization is the UN’s specialised agency. You cannot hope that it is impartial and not dependent on third parties. The UN closely cooperates with the US and EU; it often takes their hopes and considerations into account. Yet, given that Russia spoke for international investigation [concerning the Ryanair flight FR4879], there is a chance that more or less factual investigation will take place.


This publication fits the recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about ubiquitous Russophobia and anti-Russian attitudes in international organisations, even though the incident did not concern Russia as such. It is implied that Russian allies, Belarus in this case, are also subject to western bias and provocations.

On 23 May 2021, the Minsk Air Control reported a bomb on board the aircraft Ryanair flight FR4987 en route from Athens to Vilnius and demanded the flight redirected to Minsk. As the plane landed, a dissident journalist wanted by the Belarusian authorities for “extremism” was detained. No bombs were found. In the afternoon of 24 May, Belarusian authorities claimed that the Palestinian terrorist organisation Hamas had organised the bomb threat, allegedly to force the EU to demand an Israeli cease-fire in Gaza. This came several days after a cease-fire had already been negotiated. In addition, the alleged bomb threat came after the the Air Traffic Controllers told the plane to divert to Minsk.

On 27 May 2021, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council expressed its strong concern at the “apparent forced diversion of Ryanair Flight FR4978.” “Recalling Article 55 (e) of the Chicago Convention, the Council decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation of this event, and in this connection requested the ICAO Secretariat to prepare an interim report to the Council for a subsequent meeting of the current session, presenting the available facts and relevant legal instruments,” ICAO statement of 27 May 2021 reads.

The ICAO is a specialised and funding agency of the United Nations; literally all countries in the world are ICAO members. The Council of ICAO is elected by the Assembly every 3 years and consists of 36 members elected in 3 groups. There is no reason to question the ICAO’s impartiality. The claim that the ICAO’s investigation will likely be biased due to the UN’s cooperation with the US and EU does not make sense, since the UN as the largest international organisation cooperates with each and every member state.

For background, read our analysis: The “Russophobia” Myth: Appealing to the Lowest Feelings and look at earlier disinformation cases alleging that there is no evidence that Russian athletes used doping, that there is no need for international organisations, and that Russia’s prospective Olympic ban is a symptom of Western Russophobia.


Related disinfo cases


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

    Your opinion matters!

    Data Protection Information *

      Subscribe to the Disinfo Review

      Your weekly update on pro-Kremlin disinformation

      Data Protection Information *

      The Disinformation Review is sent through Mailchimp.com. See Mailchimp’s privacy policy and find out more on how EEAS protects your personal data.