DISINFO: Since Europe refused to hand over Pratasevich, Lukashenko had to redirect the plane
Raman Pratasevich Ryanair Flight 4978 Alexander Lukashenko Terrorism

DISINFO: Since Europe refused to hand over Pratasevich, Lukashenko had to redirect the plane


The refusal by European states to respond to Belarusian arrest warrants was no doubt what prompted Minsk to take the controversial step of forcing the airliner to land.


An unfounded claim. Raman Pratasevich has resided outside Belarus since 2019. No international warrants for the arrest of the dissident was ever issued.

Roman Protasevich is a co-founded the opposition Nexta channel on Telegram, which played an important role in providing information and broadcasting huge opposition protests against the incumbent Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenko in 2020.

Protasevich fled Belarus for Poland in 2019 due to pressure from the authorities. He later relocated to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is also based.

Roman Pratasevich, was detained in Minsk airport when flying from Athens to Vilnius. On Sunday, May 23, 2021, the Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to turn back 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 by a Belarusian military aircraft to land in Minsk. Roman Protasevich was detained during a repeated security check of passengers.

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 Amnesty International called the forced diversion and landing of the Ryanair flight a chilling act of air piracy:

This apparent act of air piracy is chilling. There is little doubt that the Belarusian authorities used a false bomb threat and a MiG fighter jet to force an airplane flying from one country of the European Union to another to land with the apparent sole purpose of detaining an exiled critical journalist whom they badly wanted silenced.

See earlier disinformation claims alleging that Nexta is the Polish provocative Telegram channel and that Nexta covering the Belarus protests is a project of the Polish special services.


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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.

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