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EXPERTS AVAILABLE: Belarus' Mid-Flight Diversion of a Civilian Airliner to Capture Journalist Raman Pratasevich

Raman Pratasievič, Ryanair
Raman Pratasievič, Ryanair

RFE/RL has been in Belarus for over 65 years, and our experts are available to comment on the ongoing crisis following Belarus’ armed diversion of a civilian airliner in order to seize and detain prominent journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend.

This action has been called a “state hijacking” by European Union leaders and condemned by U.S. President Biden. The EU has already banned Belarusian airplanes from its airspace, many airlines are purposely avoiding Belarusian airspace, fresh economic sanctions have been imposed on Belarusian officials including longtime ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his son Victor, and more actions are to come.

But the crisis in Belarus predates Sunday’s Ryanair incident, and is linked to last year’s massive opposition protests against Lukashenka’s continued rule, and to decades of political and social unrest and economic weakness in what has been termed “Europe’s last dictatorship.”

The journalists of RFE/RL and its Belarus Service, Radio Svaboda, have had a front-row seat for all of these developments – dozens of Svaboda’s local reporters have been detained for their journalistic work; one, social media consultant Ihar Losik, has been in pre-trial detention for more than eleven months; and Pratasevich himself is a former RFE/RL Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow.

RFE/RL experts, with extensive experience in covering and analyzing events in Belarus, look forward to answering your questions about Belarus, the Ryanair hijacking, the Lukashenka government, and the forces opposing it:


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To schedule an interview with any of RFE/RL's experts, contact Martins Zvaners in Washington (; +1.202.457.6948), or Jana Hokuvova in Prague (; +420.221.122.072).

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