President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko commented on the incident with the forced landing of the Ryanair flight.
According to Lukashenko, the message about a bomb on board the aircraft came from Switzerland. The crew consulted both the airline and the airport in Vilnius, but decided to land in Minsk.
"The plane made a U-turn in the area of the BelNPP (Belarus Nuclear Power Plant — ed.). What if suddenly the NPP safety systems were put on full alert? I was acting legitimately to protect people, in accordance with all international rules,” Lukashenko said.
According to the President of Belarus, the affirmations saying that a MiG-29 fighter jet forced the airplane to land were "absolute lies."
"Holding the crew and the passengers at the airport by armed people is another nonsense. The crew was calling someone for seven hours and did not want to fly away,” the Belarusian president added.
On May 23, a Ryanair plane bound from Athens to Vilnius made an emergency landing following a report about a bomb on board. A MiG-29 fighter jet of Belarus took off to escort the passenger liner. Immediately after landing, Roman Protasevich, the founder of the opposition Telegram channel NEXTA, who was on board, was arrested.
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