The forced landing of a Ryanair passenger jet and subsequent arrest of a prominent opposition journalist in Belarus on May 23 2021 sparked international outrage and condemnation.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary described the action as “state sponsored hijacking” and European airlines suspended flights in Belarusian airspace.
The drama unfolded like an international thriller.
Belarus state media said President Alexander Lukashenko personally ordered a fighter jet scrambled and the country’s air traffic control to force the passenger plane to land in Minsk as it flew briefly in Belarusian airspace on a flight from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania.
Belarus claimed there was a bomb threat and on the ground arrested journalist Roman Protasevich, co-founder and former editor of Nexta, a channel of online messaging app Telegram. They also arrested his girlfriend.
UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab told British carriers not to fly through Belarusian airspace and suspended operations to the UK by the Belarusian airline Belavia.
The EU faced issues in taking effective action and both Europe and Russia in particular needed to examine just why Lukashenko took such action and its impact.
AEJ on plane hijack
Why did he do it?
Test for international community