Onboard was the former editor-in-chief of the Nexta telegram channel.
This was announced by the adviser to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Franak Viachorka. MIA confirmed Protasevich’s detention.
The plane, flying on the route Athens-Vilnius, urgently landed at the airport “Minsk” after the pilots reported about mining.
According to information, the plane landed in Minsk at the request of Lukashenko. “A fighter jet was lifted into the sky to escort a passenger plane. Now the MiG-29 is waiting for the completion of the necessary verification measures to escort the plane to the border with Lithuania,” the report says.
Before the flight, Protasevich said that he noticed that he was being followed. According to the editor of Nexta, Tadeusz Giczan, the State Security Committee operatives boarded the flight in Athens, and when the plane was in the airspace of Belarus, one of the security forces started a fight with a crew member.
“The regime threatened the safety of passengers on board and all civil aviation for the sake of reprisals against a man who was the editor of the largest Belarusian independent telegram channels. Only for this he was recognized as a terrorist, and only for this now in Belarus Roman can face the death penalty,” said opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
According to her, she reported the incident to the office of Ryanair and the International Civil Aviation Organization, “demanding to launch an investigation into the incident and take measures up to the exclusion of Belarus from the ICAO.”
On October 20, the Supreme Court of Belarus recognized the Nexta Live channel and its logo as extremist materials, after which the project was rebranded and became known as “Hexta Live” — in Cyrillic instead of Latin. Its creator Stepan Putilo and former editor-in-chief Roman Protasevich are on the interstate wanted list. The latter announced at the end of September that he was leaving the project. On November 16, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry demanded that Poland extradite Putilo and Protasevich, who lives in Warsaw. In November 2020, they were added to the list of terrorists.