Disinfo: Landing Ryanair 4978 in Belarus was decided by the pilot himself


The landing of Ryanair flight 4978 in Belarus was decided by the pilot of the Ryanair flight himself. Even if it had been Lukashenko's decision, such a decision would have been inspired by the forced landing, on US orders, of Bolivian president Evo Morales’s plane in 2013.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the forced diversion and landing in Belarus of Ryanair flight 4978.

On Sunday, 23 May 2021, the Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to turn back minutes before crossing the Lithuanian border and to land in the Belarusian capital. The pretext for landing in Minsk was a false report about a bomb on board. At the moment when the plane changed course, it was closer to Vilnius airport than to Minsk. The Belarusian Ministry of Transport has published the transcript of the communication. From this source, it is clear that the instructions to land at Minsk came from air traffic control (ATC). The plane was forcibly diverted to the Belarusian capital by a Belarusian MIG-29 military jet. The plane’s landing in the Belarusian capital was, therefore, not the Ryanair pilots' decision.

At the airport in Minsk, the Belarusian journalist, blogger and opponent in exile Raman Pratasevich, a prominent critic of Belarus's authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who was a passenger on board the flight, was arrested.

The whole incident has been described as a serious breach of international aviation law and denounced as an act of “piracy” and “state-sponsored hijacking” by Ryanair.

EU decided on 21 June 2021 a further, 4th package of sanctions in relation to the forced landing of the Ryanair flight.

Furthermore, this event is not comparable to the forced landing in 2013 of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane in Austria, as the article claims.

The claim about the alleged similarities between the Ryanair flight and that of President Evo Morales has been largely debunked. In 2013, under the Obama administration, Bolivian President Evo Morales' flight was forced to land in Austria under pressure from the US, which believed former NSA agent and fugitive Edward Snowden was on board. Unlike the Ryanair flight, the landing of Morales' plane in Austria followed bureaucratic procedures and there were no armed military planes involved or pretexts of bombs on board. According to Bolivian officials, European nations refused it permission to enter their airspace, leaving the Morales flight with no clear route. The plane subsequently landed in Austria because it needed to refuel, and Heinz Fischer, Austria’s president at the time, met with Morales at the airport.

Read similar cases claiming that Belarus acted in full accordance with international law when Ryanair pilot decided to land in Minsk, that Ryanair Athens-Vilnius flight was forced to land just like the 2013 flight of Evo Morales , that the Ryanair pilot took the decision to perform emergency landing at Minsk and that the West protested the arrest of Pratasevich, but the incident is similar to the one with Evo Morales.


  • Reported in: Issue 249
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/06/2021
  • Article language(s) Italian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, EU
  • Keywords: Alexander Lukashenko, Ryanair Flight 4978, Vladimir Putin
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Disinfo: The US and Europe are demonising Belarus

The US and Europe are demonising Belarusian authorities. They assert that Belarus is the source of threat for regional and international security. The aim of it is to justify any actions against Minsk.


Recurring disinformation about the US and Europe plotting against Belarus.

West is reacting to events in Belarus, including oppression against civil society and the inadequate actions of Minsk, i.e. incident with the Ryanair flight 4978.

Disinfo: The far-right coup government in Kyiv emerged from the 2014 Maidan uprising

Neither the far-right coup government in Kyiv that emerged from the 2014 Maidan uprising nor its successor governments have been willing to take even one step in the spirit of the Minsk II agreement towards reconciliation with the breakaway provinces.


Disinformation about Nazi/Fascist Ukraine and Minsk Agreements.

There was no far-right coup government or coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014; this is a longstanding pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine's Euromaidan protests.

Disinfo: West caused Ukraine coup, Belarus colour revolution

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Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the protests in Belarus and Ukraine. This is consistent with the narrative about popular protests around the world which claims that they are incited and funded by Western states, including colour revolutions in post-Soviet states, the “Arab Spring” revolts, Euromaidan in Ukraine, protests in Catalonia and others. It claims that protests, disorders and civil uprisings are never manifestations of popular discontent but are “colour revolutions” directed and funded by the West.

First, Western countries did not organise protests in Belarus. Large-scale protests began in Minsk on August 9 against the results of the presidential election and then spread to other cities. People revolted against election fraud and police violence towards thousands of rally participants.