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Belarus opposition figure detained when flight diverted

Raman Protasevich
Posted at 2:30 PM, May 23, 2021

A prominent opponent of Belarus’ authoritarian president has been arrested Sunday after the airliner in which he was traveling was diverted to the country after a bomb threat, in what the opposition is calling a hijacking operation by the government.

Authorities said President Alexander Lukashenko personally ordered that a MiG-29 fighter jet accompany the Ryanair plane, traveling from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, to the airport Sunday in the capital Minsk.

A Belarusian deputy air force commander said the plane’s crew made the decision to land in Minsk, but Ryanair said that Belarusian air traffic control instructed the plane to divert to the capital.

The Belarusian Interior Ministry said Raman Pratasevich was arrested at the airport.