Published: Wed, May 26, 2021
Economy | By

Trudeau says Canada mulling more actions against Belarus after journalist's arrest

Trudeau says Canada mulling more actions against Belarus after journalist's arrest

Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them hold up a placard reading "Freedom to Roman Protasevich" during a demonstration in front of the European Commission office in Warsaw on May 24, 2021, demanding freedom for Belarus opposition activist Roman Protasevich a day after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying the dissident journalist was diverted while in Belarusian airspace.

But European Union leaders have denounced the move to divert the plane - which was traveling between two EU countries and being operated by an airline based in a third - as an act of piracy.

More Western leaders joined calls demanding Protasevich's release, after the European Union agreed at a summit on Monday to ban Belarusian airlines from the bloc and called on EU-based carriers not to fly over its airspace.

He added that Belarus was only the beginning and predicted that such measures would later be used against Russian Federation, his closest ally, as well.

Belarus' isolation deepened Tuesday as commercial planes avoided its airspace, the European Union worked up new sanctions, and a senior United Nations official said he was concerned for the welfare of an opposition journalist arrested in Minsk after his plane was diverted there, apparently on the orders of the country's longtime strongman.

After his detention, the 26-year old was seen in a brief video clip on Belarusian state television late on Monday, speaking rapidly to say he was confessing to some of the charges against him. He also suspended Belavia Belarusian Airlines' operating licence and banned it from operating flights to and from the United Kingdom without special permission.

"As a pariah country, Belarus will find it much more hard to fend off the Kremlin demands for the introduction of a single currency, the deployment of air bases and access to lucrative Belarusian economic assets". Belarus says it was responding to a bomb scare that later proved to be a false alarm.

Belarus - a former Soviet state - already benefits heavily from its ties to Moscow in the form of cut-price oil it sells at a profit, along with other financial concessions. "There's nothing more to wait for - we have to stop the terror once and for all".

The Belarusian claim forced a denial from Hamas, with a spokesman saying it wasn't true and that the group doesn't use such tactics.

Appearing on several channels of the Telegram messaging app on Monday, Mr Protasevich, 26, acknowledged playing a role in organising mass disturbances in Minsk past year.

Protasevich has left NEXTA and now runs his own popular blog.

Even as the West condemned Belarus, the crackdown continued Tuesday, when Pavel Seviarynets, the leader of the opposition Christian-Democratic Party, was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of organizing mass riots.

Protsevich's father Dmitry on Monday told Radio Free Europe he feared his son might be tortured in Belarus.

Sapega's mother, Anna Dudich, said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that her daughter was innocent and simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Lukashenko then suggested that sanctions are part of an worldwide "hybrid war" against his country, which he says is being targeted because it is a close ally of Russian Federation. More measures could follow after the brazen capture of Roman Pratasevich. The UK calls for his immediate and unconditional release and the release of all other political prisoners in Belarus. "DOT and FAA are working closely with the State Department and other US agencies to understand precisely what happened, and what actions may need to be taken to keep the flying public safe".

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