Ryanair flight diverted to Minsk by Belarusian government to allow arrest of dissident journalist

Scotrail314209

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The Belarusian opposition channel Nexta said Sunday that one of its former collaborators had been arrested after an emergency landing of a flight he was on in Minsk.

Roman Pratasevich, 26, was apprehended at Minsk airport after Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania, was diverted to Belarus.

Some drama on a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius today.
 
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Iskra

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Some drama on a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius today.
What a despicable act from Belarus. You have to feel for the regular passengers involved too, who had to fly on a plane thinking there could be a bomb on board.

I did previously have a desire to visit as a tourist, but I won't be going anywhere near now. Sadly that puts the Paris-Russia sleeper train off my agenda too :(
 

daodao

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What a despicable act from Belarus. You have to feel for the regular passengers involved too, who had to fly on a plane thinking there could be a bomb on board.

I did previously have a desire to visit as a tourist, but I won't be going anywhere near now. Sadly that puts the Paris-Russia sleeper train off my agenda too :(
If one is wanted by a country's police, it is unwise to transit that country, including on a flight through that country's air space.
 

Aictos

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If one is wanted by a country's police, it is unwise to transit that country, including on a flight through that country's air space.
The route that the flight takes is decided by Ryanair is it not? There was one flight recently that did that route but avoided Belarusian airspace altogether so no reason why Ryanair didn't do so.
 

TravelDream

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The route that the flight takes is decided by Ryanair is it not? There was one flight recently that did that route but avoided Belarusian airspace altogether so no reason why Ryanair didn't do so.

The great circle route goes over Belarus.
It was quite foolish of him to take this route with any possibility it would transit Belarusian airspace.

 

Aictos

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najaB

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The great circle route goes over Belarus.
It was quite foolish of him to take this route with any possibility it would transit Belarusian airspace.
Belarus has likely lost a significant chunk of their overflight fees for the foreseeable with this move. Airlines are well known to take more circuitous routes to avoid getting caught up in political drama.
 

TravelDream

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https://uk.flightaware.com/live/flight/MSEVN/history/20210518/0638Z/LGAV/EYVI Any reason why this couldn't have been taken to avoid Belarusian airspace?

As to it being foolish to take a route that would take him over Belarus I agree, that is foolish.

There are a whole myriad of reasons why a flight might take one route one day and a different one on another.
Before today, there was no real reason for Ryanair to avoid Belorussian airspace.

For this guy, if he'd had any sense he would have flown to something like ATH-WAW and WAW-VNO which would have been far safer with no chance of going over Belarus.
 

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For this guy, if he'd had any sense he would have flown to something like ATH-WAW and WAW-VNO which would have been far safer with no chance of going over Belarus.
 

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TravelDream

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(Can't quote for some reason, but this is @JonasB )
Only LOT flies the route. I checked every flight they had over the last 90 days and all of them avoided Belarus and Russia and crossed the Poland-Lithuania border.

That certainly wasn't the case for the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius.
 

YorkshireBear

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Nothing will happen to Belarus though as we (the west) are a bit Spineless these days. Feel for pilots.

There might be a bomb onboard. Okay we will get down on the ground in Vilnius straight away. Ah no guys, you'll divert well away to Minsk and if you don't I'll shoot you out the sky....
 

Scotrail314209

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Grant Shapps has asked the CAA to order British Airlines to avoid Belarus airspace.


The minister announced on Twitter that he has instructed the CAA to request airlines avoid Belarusian airspace and has suspended the country's national airline Belavia's operating permit.
He said: "Following the forced diversion of a @Ryanair aircraft to Minsk yesterday, I’ve instructed @UK_CAA to request airlines avoid Belarusian airspace in order to keep passengers safe.

"I have also suspended Belavia’s operating permit."

Meanwhile, speaking in the Commons at around the same time on Monday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for the "immediate release" of Mr Protasevich, an activist and blogger who was arrested following the diversion of the Ryanair flight.

They've also suspended Belarus's national airline, Belavia from flying into the UK.
 

YorkshireBear

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Grant Shapps has asked the CAA to order British Airlines to avoid Belarus airspace.





They've also suspended Belarus's national airline, Belavia from flying into the UK.
I imagine this is a sign of what the EU might be about to do, I imagine we can get it agreed quicker though. I know many in EU have called for it.
 

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British Airways, amongst others, should unilaterally have taken the decision to avoid Belarus airspace themselves without waiting to be told to do so by someone else.
 

Scotrail314209

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British Airways, amongst others, should unilaterally have taken the decision to avoid Belarus airspace themselves without waiting to be told to do so by someone else.

Indeed.

A lot of others had been avoiding Belarus airspace.

I do worry that if the Ryanair flight chose to continue onto Vilnius, it would've been shot down. There is no way that fighter jet was sent up to 'safely' escort the flight down. The Pilot's hands were tied.

My heart does go out to the Cabin Crew and Passengers who were put through unnecessary terror. Especially given the apparent rumours that the KGB agents behaved aggressively towards the crew.

Ryanair slammed Belarus on Monday over what it described as a "state-sponsored hijacking" of one of its passenger planes, as new details emerged about the brazen operation to arrest a dissident journalist on board Sunday's flight from Greece to Lithuania.
Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary accused Belarus of "state-sponsored piracy" after its flight 4978 from Athens to Vilnius was diverted by Belarusian air traffic control to Minsk over a supposed security alert.
O'Leary said Belarusian KGB agents were also on the flight that was carrying 26-year-old opposition activist Raman Pratasevich, who is wanted in Belarus on a variety of charges and was detained once the plane landed.
 

najaB

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Seems that BA got the message - BA261 took an unusual diversion to DME, avoiding Belarussian airspace:
 

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Aictos

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I was tempted to visit Minsk but after the recent actions as the recent state sponsored hijacking of a civil aircraft, I doubt I be heading there any time.

Question is if the Ryanair pilot didn't comply, would Belarus have given the order to shoot it down?
 

najaB

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Question is if the Ryanair pilot didn't comply, would Belarus have given the order to shoot it down?
Probably not, but they would have been able to justify it if they had: aircraft with reported terrorist link refused to comply with ATC instructions.
 

Aictos

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Probably not, but they would have been able to justify it if they had: aircraft with reported terrorist link refused to comply with ATC instructions.
Thing is in today's Metro, Minsk is claiming that Hamas had "told" them it had placed a bomb onboard.

I call this as being false for a few reasons;

1. What advantage had Hamas have in bombing a aircraft on a route that goes nowhere near Israel and has nothing to do with the country.

2. It's obviously a false flag operation by Minsk, I mean how convenient is it that Hamas "claimed" to have placed a bomb onboard, personally I think there never was a bomb onboard at any time and it was simply a ruse by Minsk to hijack the aircraft and kidnap two passengers.
 

peters

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They've also suspended Belarus's national airline, Belavia from flying into the UK.

I imagine this is a sign of what the EU might be about to do, I imagine we can get it agreed quicker though. I know many in EU have called for it.

EU have also banned Belarusian airlines from EU airspace and told EU airlines not to fly over Belarus airspace:

The EU ban is obviously a lot more significant as it now means Belarusian airlines can only enter and leave Belarus using one route - via Russia. That makes it practically impossible for one to operate a Minsk to New York flight, whatever the USA decides.

I was tempted to visit Minsk but after the recent actions as the recent state sponsored hijacking of a civil aircraft, I doubt I be heading there any time.

Tour operator Explore did used to advertise a Minsk to Kiev tour which looked quite interesting. I would presume that'll get revised or withdrawn if it's difficult to get flights to and from Minsk.

but they would have been able to justify it if they had: aircraft with reported terrorist link refused to comply with ATC instructions.

They would need to justify the reported terrorist link and also explain why they thought diverting to Minsk, when the plane was closer to its original destination, would have reduced the chance of the terrorist detonating the alleged bomb. If the plane had been heading for Minsk with anti-Belarus government protesters on board then it may be have been justifiable to divert it to Vilnius if a terrorist threat was received but ordering a diversion to Minsk with a well known dissident journalist on board is another thing.
 

najaB

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...personally I think there never was a bomb onboard at any time and it was simply a ruse by Minsk to hijack the aircraft and kidnap two passengers.
That is pretty much a given.
They would need to justify the reported terrorist link and also explain why they thought diverting to Minsk, when the plane was closer to its original destination, would have reduced the chance of the terrorist detonating the alleged bomb. If the plane had been heading for Minsk with anti-Belarus government protesters on board then it may be have been justifiable to divert it to Vilnius if a terrorist threat was received but ordering a diversion to Minsk with a well known dissident journalist on board is another thing.
A flimsy justification is still a justification.
 

peters

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Thing is in today's Metro, Minsk is claiming that Hamas had "told" them it had placed a bomb onboard.

I call this as being false for a few reasons;

1. What advantage had Hamas have in bombing a aircraft on a route that goes nowhere near Israel and has nothing to do with the country.

2. It's obviously a false flag operation by Minsk, I mean how convenient is it that Hamas "claimed" to have placed a bomb onboard, personally I think there never was a bomb onboard at any time and it was simply a ruse by Minsk to hijack the aircraft and kidnap two passengers.

A Turkish militant group would have been more believable, given Greece doesn't have good relations with Turkey but perhaps that wouldn't have worked for local propaganda in Belarus.
 

Bayum

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I was tempted to visit Minsk but after the recent actions as the recent state sponsored hijacking of a civil aircraft, I doubt I be heading there any time.

Question is if the Ryanair pilot didn't comply, would Belarus have given the order to shoot it down?
I don’t think any pilot anywhere would take the risk. Anecdotal reports from other pilots have said the same thing - the pilot had no other choice.
 

peters

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Belarus TV has rejected Michael O'Leary's claim that 3 KGB agents were on board. However, Greek media has reported 3 passengers voluntarily choose to remain in Belarus and not continue travel to Vilnius:

Iason Zisis - who was apparently on a flight to Vilnius but Minsk was his final destination.
Alexandra Stabredova - who asked to remain in Minsk without disclosing a reason.
Sergei Kulakov - who was apparently going to Vitebsk in Belarus, near the border with Russia.


Russian media is rejecting claims the KGB were involved because they say the only person on board with Russian citizenship was Sofia Sapega, as if a dictatorship in a former Soviet country wouldn't have their own government agents.

 

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