Tsikhanouskaya: “For the sake of reprisals against Pratasevich, Lukashenka personally caused an international scandal”

“A week ago, I was returning from Athens to Vilnius on the same flight. In Greece, Raman Pratasevich photographed our working visit. Seven days later, the regime involved intelligence agencies, raised fighter jets, and organized the hijack of a civilian plane to take Raman hostage.

Raman is a well-known Belarusian activist, blogger, and fellow of the Vaclav Havel Journalism Program. In 2019, he left Belarus because of a threat to his freedom for collaboration with the independent telegram channel Nexta. Raman is one of those people who help Belarusians learn the truth about what is happening. On this ground, Belarusian security forces started several criminal cases against him, and the Belarusian KGB included Pratasevich in the list of terrorists. Now his life is in danger.

We have already informed the office of Ryanair and the International Civil Aviation Organization, demanding to launch an investigation of the incident and take measures up to the suspension of Belarus' membership in the International Civil Aviation Organization. The time for statements has passed – obviously, Belarusians expect decisive actions and assistance from the international community. The death of political prisoner Vitold Ashurak in prison, the attack of TUT.by, the hijack of the plane – all this result from impunity. In this impunity, the regime starts a real internal occupation.

From now on, no person from any country in the world who flies over Belarus is guaranteed even basic safety. After all, today, Lukashenka personally caused an international scandal, used military aircraft against civilians of Belarus and European countries – to reprise a single person. No one else is insured. Anyone can be at Raman's place”.