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24 May 2021, 18:58

Western response to Ryanair aircraft landing in Minsk described as deliberate provocation

MINSK, 24 May (BelTA) – The response of Western politicians to the situation around the Ryanair aircraft is a planned provocation, BelTA learned from Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei on 24 May.

Vladimir Makei said: “Let me emphasize: not specialists but political men and women in the West, people that have power and levers started making the relevant political statements virtually 10-15 minutes after getting information about the incident with the aircraft. Naturally with accusations aimed at Belarus. We cannot but be concerned about it. We consider it as planned, coordinated actions and a planned provocation. Naturally we are going to respond to this kind of things. We are not interested in raising tensions. It has been stressed and mentioned repeatedly that Belarus is interested in developing normal relations with all countries, including Latvia and other neighbors. But if someone tries to wipe feet off Belarus and its people, such actions cannot and should not be left unanswered. This is why today the Latvian ambassador was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and received the relevant suggestions.”

BelTA reported earlier that an aircraft of the air carrier Ryanair was flying over Belarus on the way from Athens to Vilnius on 23 May. The aircraft sent a distress signal. The airport received the signal at 12:50. The FR4978 flight squawked code 7700 – it is the main emergency code, which signifies an emergency situation on board. A message about a bomb on board the aircraft was the reason for the distress call.

The pilot-in-command decided to divert the aircraft to the Minsk National Airport where the aircraft landed at 13:15. Emergency response teams of the airport, ambulances, aviation security personnel, and K9 specialists had already been waiting for the aircraft at the parking apron. Prompt investigation measures were taken. Additional units of the Emergencies Ministry arrived. Representatives of law enforcement agencies worked on site.

There were 123 passengers on board. All of them went through an additional aviation security check and were delivered to the airport's transit lounge for investigation measures. The luggage was also removed from the aircraft and submitted to an additional security check. The tip about the bomb on board the aircraft proved false. The aircraft left the Minsk National Airport for Vilnius at 20:48.

The Investigative Committee branch of Minsk's Oktyabrsky District has opened a criminal case into a knowingly false report about danger in line with part 1, Article 340 of the Criminal Code.

The Latvian ambassador was summoned to the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs due to an incident involving Belarus' state flag in Riga. An ice hockey world championship is taking place in Riga these days. Flags of participating countries are hoisted in the center of the city. Today Riga Mayor Martins Stakis and Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics replaced Belarus' state flag with a white-red-white one.

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