UK airlines told to avoid Belarus airspace

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The UK government has told airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace after a Ryanair flight was diverted to Minsk and an opposition journalist arrested on Sunday.

The flight was diverted by a military plane after a bomb threat had been communicated.

The Ryanair flight landed in the Belarus capital and dissident journalist Roman Protasevich, 26, was removed from the plane and arrested at the airport

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs the interception of the flight had been a “shocking assault on civil aviation”.

He added that further sanctions were being considered against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime and that the country’s ambassador in London had been summoned so the UK could convey its “condemnation of these acts”.

Belarusian airlines have been banned from the UK airspace.

The foreign secretary also called for the release of Protasevich from the “spurious charges” he faces.

“Mr Lukashenko’s regime must be held to account for such reckless and dangerous behaviour,” Raab added.