Belarus Makes Up Bomb Threat, Scrambles Fighter To Force Down Ryanair Plane And Arrest Journalist

This is truly frightening and dystopian. Belarus used a fighter jet to force down a Ryanair flight so that they could arrest a journalist on board who has opposed its President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

As pretext Belarus claims it responded to a concocted bomb threat on board the flight. However the plane was closer to its destination of Vilnius, Lithuania than Minsk, the capital of Belarus where it was forced to land.

Belarus’s presidential news service said in a statement that Mr. Lukashenko personally ordered a MiG-29 to escort the Ryanair plane to the Minsk airport. According to the statement, Mr. Lukashenko gave an “unequivocal order” to “make the plane do a U-turn and land.”

The journalist – who has been living in Lithuania in exile due to threats from the Belarusian government and never intended to set foot in the country – was arrested. Naturally no bomb was found on board.

The Putin-backed strongman in Belarus, whom so far has survived in office with the aid of the country’s security services despite a questionable election in 2020, has created a situation where no one is safe even overflying his country’s airspace.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If Edward Snowdon had flown from Moscow to Havana as people thought he might (before he obtained permission to say in Russia) , and the US had forded the plane down over US airspace to arrest Snowdon – would that have been OK?

  2. We would not have forced down a plane using a phony bomb threat to detain an accused but not convicted non violent person.

  3. Not sure why this is surprising. Putin’s puppets employ the Putin playbook & are no different than Q-tRumplican puppets as the playbook & strategies are similar in dogma, strategy & tactics.
    I do not believe for one minute our current government leadership would execute a capture of an international airline under a false pretense – Snowden was a candidate for a full pardon under the trump regime therefore its unlikely this illegal government sponsored terrorist act was an option in the hypothetical Snowden case..
    I suggest all airlines consider rerouting their flight paths which take them into Belarus airspace and all other countries where Putins influence is dominant.

  4. Oh, you mean something like if the USA (or Sweden, where he faced allegations of rape) had concocted a bomb scare at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to smoke out Wikileaks’ co-founder, Julian Assange, during the seven years (2012-2019) he sought Safe Harbor (aka asylum) inside the Embassy until he was arrested by London Metropolitan Police?!?

  5. Re Howard Millers comment- Another delusional conspiracy theory Howard- Assange’s asylum was revoked by the Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK due to his reckless, anti social behavior as an invited guest at the Ecuadorian embassy. Many attempts by his host to convince Assange to practice even basic personal hygiene or clean up after himself were met with an increasing uncooperative attitude and hostility . The Ambassador finally INVITED the British metropolitan Police in to arrest his sorry ass. – Get your facts straight amigo!.

  6. Re Howard Millers comment- Another delusional conspiracy theory Howard- Assange’s asylum was revoked by the Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK due to his reckless, anti social behavior as an invited guest at the Ecuadorian embassy. Many attempts by his host to convince Assange to practice even basic personal hygiene or clean up after himself were met with an increasing uncooperative attitude and hostility . The Ambassador finally INVITED the British metropolitan Police in to execute the original international warrant.

  7. @Howard Miller

    Good example. As much as we can say the Belarusian leadership is abusive, the U.S. and Western countries are no better. We have people who never stepped foot in the U.S. being extradited to the U.S. under pressure from the U.S. government. We have people who are captured by the U.S. government operatives and renditioned where they are tortured.

    Free speech is a crime in Europe. Christians are arrested for going to church in the U.S. The U.S. government thinks it owns your body and can send you to prison for possessing drugs. The government thinks you are a criminal if you believe in religious freedom and oppose anti white hate. The government routinely seizes cash at the airport from citizens. The government spies on citizens. A person can riot for months and burn down neighborhoods without any interference; a person can mildly protest a fraudulent election at the capitol and suddenly it is a capital offense.

    Democracy in the west is no better. Democracy is just majority rule and minority enslaved.

  8. Another instance of why we need to press Russia and other dictatorships hard. Kremlin Cruz and his ilk will doubtless disagree but doing this to capture a political dissident is a violation of law and the very foundations of civilization.

  9. Jackson just wishes that Trump could’ve done this to CNN anchors, sees no problem with it otherwise.

  10. Re Jackson Watersons responses: – Moral cowardice and parroting talking points derived from out of context events apparently is comfort food for those living in an alternative reality. Very tRumpioan & Q ?,

  11. Obama set the stage for these antics with his search for Snowdon. If we expect others to live by rules we need to follow them ourselves.

    That is not to condone either action. But no one is safe until we hold all governments accountable to follow a rule of law.

  12. An outrage. Fake a bomb threat. Forcing down a plane over crazy dictators territory. Take down political enemies. A journalist living abroad. Every flier should be outraged. Comments like Gino’s just insane. Autocrats should not be allowed to get away with this. Puts every flier and airline at risk. US and no democratic nation has never done anything comparable or even close. .

  13. I find some of the comments here disgusting. US does it? Really? In which universe has any of the posters here saw US force down a passenger plane under false pretenses, board international flight, and extract a person????
    Let’s see: “Obama set the stage for these antics with his search for Snowdon” Really, Boraxo? Did the US fighter jet force the plane down in Austria?
    “The U.S. government does the same exact thing.” – when, Jackson Waterson? Where? Another lunatic comparison, no facts, just spurious meaningless post. Are you sure it’s “the same exact thing”? Do you need to re-read the original post? Need some facts to go with your fantasy?

  14. The plane was just about at the Lithuanian border. The pilot should have said, “You say we have a problem and have to land now. Vilnius is much closer to where we are than Minsk. We are therefore continuing to Vilnius.” By the time the fighter pilot figured that out, the plane would have been out of Belarus airspace.

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