Disinfo: The West protested the arrest of Pratasevich, but the incident is similar to the one with Evo Morales


On May 23, after an emergency landing in Minsk of a flight going from Greece to Lithuania due to an alleged bomb threat that turned out to be bogus, Belarusian security forces arrested 26-year old Raman Pratasevich, creator of the Telegram channel Nexta, very popular among the opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko, and who had a warrant on charges of having allegedly organised violent riots.

Very similar events happened before in the recent past, though its main characters were different. In July 2013 several EU countries closed their airspace to a plane that, coming from Moscow, was heading to Bolivia. Aboard was then-president Evo Morales, and it had a scheduled scale in the territory that closed its borders in the middle of the flight, so it had to make an unexpected landing in Austria. Though Washington always denied any involvement in the incident, it was soon known that what caused this air space closure was the suspicion that Edward Snowden was travelling in that aircraft. Once it was checked that Snowden wasn’t on board, the plane was allowed to resume its flight. There were no reactions like the ones we are seeing now, despite the evident similarities.


This is part of a disinformation campaign about the arrest of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich at the Minsk airport after the forced landing of the Ryanair flight 4978 on which he was travelling from Athens to Vilnius.

Contrary to the claim, this episode can’t be compared with the incident surrounding Evo Morales’s plane. In July 2013, under the Obama administration, Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to land in Austria, amid US pressure, in a hunt for US fugitive Edward Snowden, who was thought to be aboard. But unlike the Belarusian plot, which involved fighter jets and bomb threats, the Bolivian flight was brought down by bureaucracy: European nations refused it permission to enter their airspace, Bolivian officials later told reporters, leaving them with no clear route back home after a trip to Moscow. 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.

According to Fischer, Morales’ plane wasn’t searched, contrary to what is claimed in this disinformation story. Besides, European countries that had denied access to their air space apologised to Bolivia in the following days, which were accepted by its government. In contrast, in the case of the Ryanair flight 4978, there is evidence that the alleged bomb threat that Belarusian authorities hoisted as the reason for this forced landing was a fake, orchestrated by Belarusian intelligence services with the goal of capturing Pratasevich, and the whole incident has been deemed as a serious breach of international aviation law and denounced as an act of “piracy” and “state-sponsored hijacking” by Ryanair.

The EU condemned this Belarusian action against a civil plane and the detention of Pratasevich. In a declaration on behalf of the EU 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. On 4 June 2021, the European Council introduced a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds.

See other examples in our database, such as claims that Belarus acted in strict accordance with international law in the Ryanair incident, that Hamas sent an email to Minsk airport, that the security service of Ukraine could have set up the incident to harm Belarus, that Raman Pratasevich is a professional media extremist, or that the Ryanair case is similar to the forced landing of Evo Morales’s plane.

This disinformation message appeared in the same programme as the claim that “Western media want to sanctify Raman Pratasevich, omitting his connections with neo-Nazis in Ukraine”.


  • Reported in: Issue 247
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 01/06/2021
  • Article language(s) Spanish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Belarus, Bolivia, Austria, EU, US
  • Keywords: Ryanair Flight 4978, Raman Pratasevich, Edward Snowden
see more

Disinfo: The US and the EU are preparing an invasion of Russia

Based on a number of reports published by American and Western media outlets, aside from anti-Russia propaganda, the US government has essentially begun its preparations for an invasion of Russia via the Baltic countries, the Black Sea, the Arctic Ocean and regions bordering the Russian Federation to the East. /.../

Preparations for an armed invasion of Russia are no longer kept under wraps in the European Union.


An unfounded claim, advancing a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about encircled Russia.

There is no evidence to subtsantiate this claim.

Disinfo: The National Interest explained why the US should side with Russia in the situation with Ukraine

The National Interest explained why the US should side with Russia in the situation with Ukraine. As expert Ted Carpenter pointed in the publication, US officials like to portray this state as an audacious democracy that suffers the aggression of “authoritarian Russia”. However, this idealised image never fit reality. Carpenter thinks that Ukraine shouldn’t be seen as an important and useful partner in the security field, since this doesn’t contribute to the purchase of real foreign policy goals. Besides, it only provokes Russia, which doesn’t benefit US interests at all. The author of the article believes that the “fraudulent” actions of Washington could be seen even during the Obama Administration, which supported the Maidan in 2014.


This disinformation story is a deliberate distortion of the original article in The National Interest which, contrary to the claim, doesn’t say that the US “should side with Russia” nor affirms that US support for Ukraine “provokes Russia”. While Ted Carpenter’s article is very critical with Ukraine’s rulers and its political situation, it actually compares its alleged authoritarian drift to what he calls “the pseudo-democratic systems of Russia, Hungary, and Turkey”. Also, unlike in the disinformation piece, the original article also uses the words ‘authoritarian Russia’ without quoting marks. Another manipulation is the sentence about Barack Obama’s support of the Maidan protests, where the original article states: “There has been a fraudulent element to Washington’s policy” since this support took place, which is very different than saying that all the actions of Washington are “fraudulent”.

Pro-Kremlin media frequently resort to this manipulative technique of quoting sentences from serious publications and then introducing a distorted message as if it was part of the original article, in this case, to promote recurrent pro-Kremlin narratives about Ukraine.

Disinfo: The West destroys the security system in the world

About twenty new formations and units will appear in the Western Military District by the end of the year. This will be Russia's response to the activity of NATO countries led by the United States, which are increasing the intensity of flights and the presence of warships at the Russian borders.

The actions of our Western colleagues destroy the security system in the world and force us to take adequate countermeasures.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about NATO, an attempt to justify heavy military build-up of Russian Armed Forces on the Western direction.

NATO is an Alliance based on collective defense. As is declared on the official webpage of the Alliance: