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“We won’t tolerate that one can try to play Russian roulette with the lives of innocent civilians. ”

EU council chief Charles Michel on the arrest of an opposition figure after the diversion of a passenger jet to Belarus.

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  • Belarus
  • Flight diversion
  • Background: Belarus is a nation that borders Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia - Russia remains its most powerful ally.
  • The commercial flight was flying from Greece to Lithuania on Sunday when it was diverted to the Belarus' capital because of a bomb threat.
  • One of the plane’s passengers: Raman Pratasevich, sometimes described as a journalist, activist and blogger, who organized widespread protests against president in Belarus. This led the Belarusian government to label him an extremist. After landing, police arrested Pratasevich and his girlfriend.
  • The plane had between 120 and 180 passengers. No bomb was found.
  • Passenger sitting in front of Pratasevich: _“He freaked out when the pilot said the plane is diverted to Minsk. He said there’s death penalty awaiting him there…” _The Associated Press said he faces 15 years in prison on charges of inciting mass riots and fanning social hatred, but has not confirmed Pratasevich’s claim he may be executed.

**Why It Matters: Europeans leaders call this event a hijacking - alleging members of the Belarusian KGB (KGB = Soviet secret service) of assisted in the targeting of this plane, for the purpose of attaining this 26-year-old. **The European Union has imposed sanctions following the diversion, banning Belarus' airlines from using its airports and airspace.

**Sources: **

AP article on the flight diversion

AP article on the sanctions