- 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.