OSCE PA President calls for clarification from Belarus and international investigation into grounding of flight and arrest of journalist

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COPENHAGEN, 24 May 2021 – Calling it a “reckless” and “dangerous” move, the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today expressed shock and outrage over the apparent decision by Belarusian authorities to ground an international flight on Sunday in order to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich.

Protasevich was aboard a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying some 170 passengers when his plane was diverted to Minsk. Protasevich was placed under arrest and the plane was grounded for several hours before it could continue to its destination.

“This outrageous, reckless and dangerous action taken by Mr. Lukashenko is truly beyond the pale,” said OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Peter Lord Bowness (United Kingdom) in a statement today. “Not only did this needlessly endanger the lives of nearly 200 people on the plane, it also may have been a violation the 1944 Chicago Convention on international aviation, which counts Belarus as one of its 193 signatories. Beyond that, obviously, the fact that the target of the action was an individual being arrested apparently for his work as a journalist raises serious concerns over freedom of the media.”

President Bowness called for the immediate release of Protasevich and a strong international response to Belarus’s actions. He noted that this latest act is a clear indication that the government is willing to flout international opinion in pursuit of its single-minded and short-sighted goal of eliminating opposition and maintaining its grip on power at all costs.

The PA leader called for a concerted international effort to build a movement for accountability. He also urged Belarus to release all political prisoners, engage constructively and in good faith with the opposition, and allow the holding of free and fair elections with observers from the OSCE.



Нэт Пэрри

Начальник отдела коммуникаций и прессы

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