Jun 2, 2021
On May 23rd, a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius is instructed by a military jet to land in Minsk as it enters Belarusian airspace, on account that Hamas has a bomb planted on board. One passenger in particular couldn’t be fooled. Blogger Roman Protasevich, now jailed in his home country, is one of many political opponents to have fled Lukashenko’s brutal repression. The strongman’s authoritarian grip on the country has steadily risen since taking office in 1994, but the presidential race that rigged 80.1% of the vote in his favour last August has proved an inflection point. This latest feat of transnational airborne piracy on Europe’s doorstep is again testing the EU’s appetite for sanctions—and the Belarusian opposition's willingness to keep up the fight. Journalist Hanna Liubakova and Atlantic Council Fellow Vladislav Davidzon join us to unpack.