US to work with EU on targeted sanctions for Belarus

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The Ryanair jet carrying over 100 passengers was diverted to Minsk on the basis of a false bomb scare in order to arrest an opposition journalist - in a further move by the Belarusian authorities in its ongoing war against independent journalism and opposition voices.

Russian Federation denied entry to Air France and Austrian Airlines, forcing them to cancel flights.

A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, where authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021.

The Department of State has issued a warning to USA citizens urging them not to travel to Belarus, and The Federal Aviation Administration has warned airlines to "exercise extreme caution when considering flying in Belarusian airspace".

But the RBC daily, citing a source close to the Ministry of Transport, said Russian Federation would soon formally authorise flights to and from Moscow that bypass Belarus.

At a special meeting on May 27, the 36 Council members, representing ICAO member states, asked member states and other stakeholders to cooperate in a fact-finding investigation into the incident to establish, "whether there had been any breach by an ICAO member state of global aviation law, including the convention on worldwide civil aviation [Chicago Convention] and its annexes".

Roman's father, Dmitry on Thursday said his son was "a tough man" and "a hero".

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It means the AFL will now have to seek an exemption for the Adelaide Crows to travel for Sunday's clash with Richmond at the MCG. The MCG and Marvel Stadium are amongst the exposure sites and three bars in the inner suburb of Prahran remain a "concern".

"I acted lawfully to protect our people", Lukashenko said in an address to parliament.

Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanov skaya on Friday urged the European Union to be "braver" and impose more sanctions against the Minsk regime.

Sapega, a 23-year-old law student at the European Humanities University (EHU) in Lithuania, appeared in another video on Tuesday, saying she worked for a Telegram channel that disclosed information about Belarusian law enforcement. Both flights were cancelled.

The European Commission president also wrote to the opposition offering a three-billion-euro package to support "a democratic Belarus" if Mr Lukashenko steps down.

The criticism was nothing more than another attempt by his opponents to undermine his rule, he added.

While expressing concern about the forced diversion of flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius, ICAO has been quick to point out that it does not have the authority to directly enforce measures in retaliation at what political and airline industry leaders have characterized as a state-sponsored hijacking.

"It is simply clear what these Western friends want from us", he said, speaking of mass election protests in Belarus in 2020.

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