European Union imposes sanctions on Belarus over 'hijacked' Ryanair flight

Father Of Arrested Belarus Blogger Says Son'Physically Harmed

Father Of Arrested Belarus Blogger Says Son'Physically Harmed

The speech to parliament will be the first time the Belarusian leader has spoken in public since Sunday's rerouting of a Ryanair flight to Minsk and the subsequent arrest of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich.

"I am not a surgeon, but it is certain that they hit his nose and may have broken it", Protasevich's mother said of the video that was circulated by the authorities.

He tweeted: 'The video of Roman Protasevich makes for deeply distressing viewing.

Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary, on Monday condemned Belarus' actions, telling the Irish radio station NewsTalk "this was a case of state-sponsored hijacking".

It follows Monday's announcement that the European Union and the United Kingdom would issue new sanctions against Belarus in light of the arrest, with Mr Shapps instructing the Civil Aviation Authority to request airlines avoid Belarusian air space "to keep passengers safe". Ryanair said Belarusian air traffic controllers had informed the flight of an alleged security threat and instructed it to land in Minsk.

She asked for the Belarusian opposition to be invited to next month's G7 summit in Britain, an initiative that sources close to the French president said Paris supported.

He said it was "very hard to believe" the seizure of Mr Protasevich from the flight could have taken place "without at least the acquiescence of the authorities in Moscow".

The claim of a genuine bomb scare has been dismissed by Western leaders.

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Mr Raab said that although the situation was not yet clear, the relationship between Minsk and Moscow suggested Russian leaders may have been aware of the plans in advance. They backed banning Belarusian airlines from flying over EU territory and called on European airlines to avoid flying over Belarus.

Protasevich, 26, was a co-founder of the Nexta Telegram channel, which helped organise the protests previous year that were the biggest challenge to Lukashenko's long rule. The channel has about 1.2 million subscribers.

A 30-second video of Protasevich was broadcast by state television late Monday, in which he confirmed that he was in prison in Minsk and "confessed" to charges of organising mass unrest.

Protsevich's father Dmitry on Monday told Radio Free Europe he feared his son might be tortured in Belarus.

On Tuesday, Mr Protasevich's mother said she had not slept since her son and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega were arrested after the Athens-to-Vilnius flight landed in Minsk.

"All I can say is the behavior of the Belarus regime does not lend itself to think that in any way this statement was offered voluntarily", Therese Coffey, a British government minister, told Sky News on Tuesday.

Sofia, a Russian citizen, is in the final year of worldwide law studies at the European Humanities University in Vilnius. "This is an act of pure revenge!" she said. "She is a very tough girl in a moral sense".

On Monday night Pete Buttigieg, the United States secretary of transportation, said in a statement: "We strongly condemn the actions the Belarusian government took to force the diversion of a Ryanair flight for the apparent objective of arresting journalist Roman Pratasevich". The UK calls for his immediate and unconditional release and the release of all other political prisoners in Belarus.

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