Polish MEP Radek Sikorski has been quizzed over the European Union’s response following the interception of a Ryanair plane. The Russia-aligned leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has been condemned after “hijacking” a Ryanair passenger plane on Sunday in order to capture an exile opposition activist. A MIG fighter plan was scrambled and forced the airliner to carry out an emergency landing in Minsk where prominent Lukashenko critic Roman Protasevich was arrested by police. The UK Foreign Office has condemned the diversion of Ryanair Flight FR4978 on May 23 to Minsk, Belarus and calls on Belarusian authorities to release Roman Protasevich.
BBC Today programme host Nick Robinson asked the former Polish Foreign Minister: “Are you worried that there is going to be at the highest levels of the EU, including inside the commission a kind of set of mixed messages?”
Mr Sikorski replied: “That wasn’t a satisfactory comment.
“Someone joked let us rejoice JFK’s limo has made it back to Washington. No, the concern should be for the two passengers who were seized in Minsk.
“After this threat to EU citizens, to their lives, if it is true that the MIG fighter threatened a civilian aircraft with being shot down in order to seize an EU protected person this is completely outrageous.
He added: “We cannot let it pass.”
The question was presented to the Polish MEP after the EU’s transport Commissioner tweeted: “The Ryanair flight just took off bound for Vilnius.
“Great news for everyone especially the family and friends of people on board,”
Mr Robinson pointed out that the post did not mention the jailed journalist Mr Pratasevich.
Belarusian opposition figures have condemned the arrest of Mr Pratasevich and accused the regime of risking the safety of the passenger on board.
Opposition leader- in-exile Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said: “It is absolutely obvious that this is an operation by the special services to hijack an aircraft in order to detain the activist and blogger Roman Protasevich.
“The regime endangered 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.”
She added: “From now on, not a single person flying over Belarus can be sure of their safety.
“After all, the regime is abusing the rules of air traffic in order to capture those who disagree.”
In the UK the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also lashed out and warned Lukashenko the move would have “serious implications.”
Mr Raab said: “The UK is alarmed by reports of the arrest of NEXTA journalist Roman Protasevich and circumstances that led to his flight being forced to land in Minsk.
“We are coordinating with our allies. This outlandish action by Lukashenko will have serious implications.”