Belarusian airlines not allowed into UK airspace “unless expressly permitted” –

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Belarusian airlines not allowed into UK airspace “unless expressly permitted” – fr


Belarusian airlines will be banned from entering UK airspace “unless expressly permitted,” Grant Shapps said.

The transport secretary revealed that the government was “taking further action” after the removal of authorization for Belavia to operate to and from Britain.

“With immediate effect Belarusian airlines will be barred from entering UK airspace unless specifically authorized,” he tweeted.

The move comes after Boris Johnson warned that Belarus’ treatment of a captured journalist and a prominent government critic would have “consequences.”

Roman Protasevich was on a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius on Sunday when he was forced to change course for the Belarusian capital after a bomb threat, escorted by a MiG fighter jet.

He was arrested and, in a video released by Belarusian authorities on Monday evening, appeared to admit he was involved in organizing mass protests in Minsk last year.

Transport Secretary revealed government ‘taking further action’ after authorization for Belavia to operate to and from Britain withdrawn

Roman Protasevich was on a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius on Sunday when he was forced to change course for the Belarusian capital after a bomb threat, escorted by a MiG fighter jet.

The prime minister said the video was “deeply distressing” and called for Mr. Protasevich’s release.

He tweeted: “Roman Protasevich’s video makes viewing deeply distressing.

“As a journalist and passionate supporter of freedom of expression, I call for his immediate release. Belarusian actions will have consequences ”.

Although Belavia, the country’s public airline, does not operate any scheduled flights in UK airspace, the Transport Department has said it has done so in the past, flying to places such as North Africa. and Ireland.

It follows Monday’s announcement that the EU and UK would impose new sanctions on Belarus in light of the arrest, with Mr Shapps asking the civil aviation authority to ask the companies airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace “to ensure the safety of passengers”.

On Monday, he also suspended Belavia’s operating license, while EU leaders called on member states to do the same.

Alexander Lukashenko has been President of Belarus since the post was created in 1994 and was re-elected for the sixth time in 2020 with 80% of the vote, in an election deemed “neither free nor fair” by the European Union.

Pictured: Belarusians and Poles gathered in Warsaw to protest Belarusian President Lukashenko after his authorities forced Ryanair's plane to land in Minsk and arrested opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich

Pictured: Belarusians and Poles gathered in Warsaw to protest Belarusian President Lukashenko after his authorities forced Ryanair’s plane to land in Minsk and arrested opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich

Since his victory in the contested elections last August, Mr. Lukashenko has suppressed dissenting voices, many opposition figures arrested and other forced into exile.

Mr Johnson’s comments came after one of his ministers said there was reason to suspect Mr Protasevich’s statement had not been ‘offered voluntarily’.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told Sky News: “I don’t think it would be a surprise (if the statement had been forced). But I’m not in a position to tell you exactly what our latest information is on whether or not this is coerced.

“But all I can say is that the behavior of the Belarusian regime in no way lends itself to thinking that this statement was offered voluntarily. “

Speaking in the early hours of Tuesday in Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said the events were “unacceptable, shocking and scandalous”.

“We will not tolerate them playing Russian roulette with the lives of innocent civilians,” he added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the incident was a “hijack”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that Russia could have been involved in the hijacking operation on Sunday.

He said it was “very hard to believe” that Mr. Protasevich’s seizure of the flight could have taken place “without at least the agreement of the Moscow authorities”.

Mr Raab said that although the situation is not yet clear, relations between Minsk and Moscow suggested that the Russian leadership may have been aware of the plans in advance.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the incident was a “state-funded hijack” and claimed Russian KGB agents were on board the flight.

“It was clear that the intention of the Russian authorities was to fire a journalist and his traveling companion. We believe that some KGB agents were also unloaded from the plane, ”he said.

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