Cyprus closes its airspace to Belarusian planes

Cyprus closes its airspace to Belarusian planes

Cyprus closes its airspace to Belarusian planes

Cyprus has banned airlines registered in Belarus from using its airspace and airport, Reuters reported.

The ban entered into effect on May 28.

Last week, EU leaders agreed to ban Belarusian carriers from flying over the bloc's airspace, after the country forced a passenger plane en route from Athens to Lithuania to land in Minsk in order to arrest a journalist critical of the government.

The same advisory prohibits Cyprus-registered airlines from entering Belarusian airspace. All flights to and from Belarus have also been suspended.

Greek PM: Forced landing of Ryanair plane in Belarus was “unprecedented, shocking”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the forced landing of the plane to detain Raman Pratasevich, a prominent critic of the country’s autocratic president, was an “unprecedented and shocking” act.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a MiG-29 fighter jet to scramble and accompany the Ryanair plane to Minsk due to a supposed bomb threat to the airliner as it flew over Belarus en route from Greece to Lithuania.

Officials said no bomb was found onboard, but during security checks on passengers, police arrested Protasevich, who was placed on a terrorist watchlist and accused of several crimes by Belarusian security services during their brutal crackdown on last year’s huge opposition protests against Lukashenko’s 26-year rule.

“We demand all passengers’ immediate release … Enough is enough,” Mitsotakis tweeted.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry also condemned what it called a “state hijacking”.

11 Greek citizens were on 171 passenger Ryanair flight.

“This act which placed passengers’ lives in danger is unacceptable,” it said, calling for the immediate release of the plane and all of its passengers.

“Such practices … are not in line with any civilised state and cannot stay unanswered.”

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.