Behind Belarusian despot stands Putin

Imagine you are flying over Europe in a European air carrier on your way home from a Greek vacation in the post-coronavirus era.

By

Opinion

May 27, 2021 - 7:54 AM

Russia's President Vladimir Putin Photo by Nikolsky Alexei/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS

Imagine you are flying over Europe in a European air carrier on your way home from a Greek vacation in the post-coronavirus era.

Suddenly, your plane does a 180-degree turn and lands in Minsk, Belarus. You see from your window that it is being “escorted” by a MiG-29 fighter jet. You are held for seven hours at the Minsk airport, while an exiled Belarusian dissident and his girlfriend are seized from among the passengers and hustled off by security police.

This act of air piracy was not a movie plot or the work of Mideast terrorists. It took place Saturday, when an Irish-owned Ryanair passenger jet flying from Greece to Lithuania was forced — on direct orders from Belarusian strongman President Alexander Lukashenko — to land in Minsk as it crossed through Belarusian airspace. The goal was to kidnap prominent Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich, 26, who has been living in exile in Lithuania and was flying home.

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