While Westerners deplore the rerouting to Minsk of a plane carrying a Belarusian opponent, Vladimir Putin recalled an incident dating from 2013: the forced landing of Evo Morales in Austria under American pressure.
The parenthesis was opened by Vladimir Putin during a press exchange with Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi, ahead of a closed-door discussion on May 28.
While the Belarusian president deplored the measures taken by the European Union after the diversion of a plane by Belarus, his Russian counterpart took the opportunity to recall an incident dating from 2013, also involving a sudden duress imposed on a theft, but this time by Westerners.
“At the time they hijacked the Bolivian president’s plane,” said Vladimir Putin with a mocking smile, during the exchange with the Belarusian head of state, who exclaimed: “It’s true ! “
The reference is as follows: returning from a trip to Russia in July 2013, the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales was refused flight over the airspace of these four countries (France, Spain, Italy and Portugal), who suspected him of transporting former US intelligence consultant and whistleblower Edward Snowden, wanted by the United States for espionage.
The Head of State’s plane had to make an improvised 13-hour stopover in Austria, before finally being able to resume its trip, after having denied the presence of Edward Snowden on board his plane … This forced stopover was qualified by the Bolivian president of “aggression” towards Latin America.
In the recent case, discussed by the two heads of state on May 28, it was the Belarusian authorities who intervened to land an airliner, provoking outrage in the European Union. On May 23, Minsk sent a fighter into the sky to “recommend” a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk, claiming a bomb threat attributed to Hamas. The Palestinian Islamist movement, for its part, has denied having any connection with the threat advanced by the Belarusian authorities.
On board the plane which was diverted were the journalist and Belarusian opponent Roman Protassevich and his companion Sofia Sapega (of Russian nationality), who were arrested in Minsk.
The EU accuses Belarus of having used this bomb threat as an excuse to carry out this arrest. Russia, for its part, believes that Minsk, which claims to have acted in good faith, has tried to be transparent and that the European sanctions that followed are premature until no investigation has been concluded.