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Saturday, July 31, 2021

US proposes to ban air travel between US and Belarus

The move follows the May 23 diversion of a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, so authorities could arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich after the plane landed in Minsk.

By: AP | Washington |
June 30, 2021 9:44:11 am
The Ryanair jet was traveling from Greece to Lithuania both members of the European Union _ when Belarusian flight controllers ordered it to land in Minsk because of a bomb threat and Lukashenko scrambled a fighter jet to escort it Once the plane was on the tarmac security agents seized Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend and took them into custody. (File)

The United States has proposed sharp restrictions on travel between the US and Belarus, the latest fallout from the forced landing of a passenger jet to arrest a dissident Belarussian journalist.

The Transportation Department said the order would bar airlines from selling tickets for travel between the two countries, with possible exceptions for humanitarian or national security reasons.

There are no direct passenger flights between the US and Belarus.

The move follows the May 23 diversion of a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, so authorities could arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich after the plane landed in Minsk. Pratasevich faces a possible 15-year prison term. He and his girlfriend were recently moved from jail to house arrest.

President Joe Biden has condemned the forced diversion of the jet by Belarus so it could arrest a dissident journalist as an “outrageous incident” and has joined calls for an international investigation.

Last week, the European Union imposed new economic sanctions to register concern over the incident.

Belarus responded on Monday by stopping cooperation against illegal migration and banning EU officials.

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