President Biden has condemned Belarus for intimidation as they arrested a dissent journalist and forced him to confess under duress. A Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk when it was flying over Belarus on the pretext of a bomb scare. The flight left Minsk without Roman Pratasevich, who was made to confess to committing crimes against the state on a video clip on state tv.
On Monday, President Joe Biden called the forced diversion of a commercial flight by Belarus a “direct affront to international norms.” He condemned the arrest of a 26-year-old opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich and called the action an “outrageous incident.”
He also stated that the confession made by the journalist had been “under duress” after the video clip was aired on Belarus state TV. He called the incident and the video as “shameful assaults on political dissent and the freedom of the press.”
Biden also joined the European Union in calling for an international investigation and for sanctions to be imposed on Belarus. The 27 bloc European Union has already banned Belarus airlines from using its air space and airports after the commercial flight was forced to land in Minsk, on Sunday.
President Lukashenka, an authoritarian leader, has held on to power through an election which was considered unfair by the opposition. His reelection in August 2020, for the sixth time, was rejected by the opposition who called it a rigged election. Pratasevich has been organizing and holding demonstrations against the government through a Telegram messaging app’s Nexta channel, of which he was co-founder.
On Monday, in another announcement, the White House said that Jake Sullivan, national security adviser was in touch with Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, opposition leader in Belarus. He told her that the US and its EU allies will take the current regime into account for their action.