This Article is From May 24, 2021

"Reasonable Approach": Russia Defends Belarus Over Flight Diversion

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the global community to "soberly assess the situation".

'Reasonable Approach': Russia Defends Belarus Over Flight Diversion

A Ryanair passenger flight was forced to land after which an opposition activist was arrested.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday defended a decision by Belarusian authorities to divert a Ryanair passenger flight carrying an opposition activist who was arrested.

The flight from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in the Belarus capital Minsk Sunday on the orders of strongman Alexander Lukashenko following a supposed bomb scare.

One of the flight's passengers, wanted opposition activist Roman Protasevich, was detained in Minsk airport.

Western leaders called the incident an "act of state terrorism" and the EU was expected Monday to toughen sanctions against Belarus.

Lavrov told journalists that Belarus had treated the incident with an "absolutely reasonable approach".

"A representative of the Belarusian foreign ministry... stressed the readiness of the Belarusian authorities to act on the issue in a transparent manner and to follow all international rules," Lavrov said during a press conference following a meeting with his Greek counterpart.

"I think this is an absolutely reasonable approach."

He called on the global community to "soberly assess the situation".

Earlier Monday, authorities in Belarus insisted they had acted legally when they diverted the flight. They instead accused the West of making unfounded claims for political reasons.

Protasevich, 26, is a Belarusian journalist and activist.

Together with co-founder Stepan Putilo he had until recently run the Nexta telegram channel that galvanised and directed huge protests against Lukashenko's disputed re-election to a sixth term in August 2020.

Last year, Protasevich and Putilo were accused by Belarusian authorities of a number of crimes including organising mass riots. Protasevich left the Nexta project last year.

He faces a sentence of up to 15 years in Belarus.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)