Russia's Lavrov backs Belarus' "hijacking" of Ryanair flight FR4978

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Minsk was taking an "absolutely reasonable approach" to the detention of journalist Roman Protasevich, after was forcibly taken off the plane and arrested after his flight from Greece to Lithuania made an emergency landing in Belarus after a hoax bomb scare.

Yale University History Professor Timothy Snyder added fuel to rumours of Russian involvement, claiming in a tweet: "Belarus would not have hijacked an EU place without Russian approval".

This incident is an outrage and will be punished. European and international authorities should consider the possibility of Russian involvement. Russia does not seem to be upset that Belarus has arrested one of its citizens in a bizarre, unprecedented and highly unlawful way, which suggests prior knowledge. A complicated abduction operation such as this one would be more likely to succeed with the help of Russian intelligence. It seems unlikely that the Belarusian regime, now very dependent upon Russia, would have committed such a spectacular international crime without Russian approval.

Professor Timothy Snyder, Yale University.

Vladimir Putin fears the ongoing peaceful protests against the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's corrupt regime. The possibility of another former Soviet leader being toppled by the people is Putin's worst nightmare: it would send out a message of hope to his own people, and Roman Protasevich threatens Putin as much as he threatens Lukashenko.

When the Russian parliament, the Duma, passed legislative amendments in June 2006 allowing the President to order the elimination of dissidents, the first to die was journalist and best-selling author Anna Politkovskaya, Putin's nemesis.

She was shot dead outside her St Petersburg apartment on October 7th 2006 - Putin's birthday.

Read also: Belarus facing sanctions after Ryanair "hijacking" outrage and arrest of Roman Protasevich

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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