Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 23 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/26/21

As Anger Toward Belarus Mounts, Recall the 2013 Forced Landing of Bolivia's Plane to Find Snowden

By       (Page 1 of 5 pages)   No comments
Author 4807
Message Glenn Greenwald
Become a Fan
  (150 fans)

From Substack

What Belarus did, while illegal, is not unprecedented. The dangerous tactic was pioneered by the same U.S. and E.U. officials now righteously condemning it.

Evo Morales
Evo Morales
(Image by Daniel Semper from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

U.S. and E.U. governments are expressing outrage today over the forced landing by Belarus of a passenger jet flying over its airspace on its way to Lithuania. The Ryanair commercial jet, which took off from Athens and was carrying 171 passengers, was just a few miles from the Lithuanian border when a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet ordered the plane to make a U-turn and land in Minsk, the nation's capital.

On board that Ryanair flight was a leading Belarusian opposition figure, 26-year-old Roman Protasevich, who, fearing arrest, had fled his country in 2019 to live in exile in neighboring Lithuania. The opposition figure had traveled to Athens to attend a conference on economics with Belarus' primary opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and was attempting to return home to Lithuania when the plane was forcibly diverted.

Protasevich, when he was teenager, became a dissident opposed to Belarus' long-time authoritarian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko, and has only intensified his opposition in recent years. When Lukashenko last year was "re-elected" to his sixth term as president in a sham election, the largest and most sustained anti-Lukashenko protests in years erupted.

Protasevich, even while in exile, was a leading oppositional voice, using an anti-Lukashenko channel on Telegram -- one of the few remaining outlets dissidents have to voice criticisms of the regime. For those activities, he was formally charged with various national security crimes, and then, last November, was placed on the official "terrorist list" by Belarus' intelligence service (still called the "KGB" from its days as a Soviet republic).

Lukashenko's own press service said the fighter jet was deployed on orders of the leader himself, telling the Ryanair pilot that they believed there was a bomb or other threat to the plane on board. When the plane landed in Minsk, an hours-long search was conducted and found no bomb or any other instrument that could endanger the plane's safety, and the plane was then permitted to take off and land 30 minutes later at its intended destination in Lithuania. But two passengers were missing.

Click Here to Read Whole Article