Stoltenberg says Belarus will be punished for flight diversion as the clash escalates after the activist stabbed himself in the Minsk court.
Pressure rose in Belarus on Wednesday when the NATO chief called for sanctions following the controversial flight diversion from Minsk, and when the shock escalated over the alleged suicide attempt of an activist in court. .
On May 23, Belarus revolted a military plane to escort a Ryanair plane to Minsk, later arresting activist Roman Protasevich and his companion who were on board. Belarus says a bomb threat had been reported, but many in the West saw the fun as a transfer to Protasevich prison.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that some members of the transatlantic security alliance were considering taking further action after the European Union and the United States took action against Belarus.
“I think the most important thing now is to make sure that these sanctions that are being agreed are fully implemented,” Stoltenberg told reporters during a visit to London to talk to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“It should be clear that when a regime like the Minsk regime behaves as it did, in violation of basic international rules and regulations, we will impose costs on them.”
Apparent suicide attempt in court
Stoltenberg’s comments came after a Belarusian activist stabbed himself in the neck during a court hearing on Tuesday after he was informed that his family and neighbors had been prosecuted if he did not plead guilty.
RFE / RL footage showed Stepan Latypov lying on a wooden bench inside a prisoner’s cage in the hall of the Minsk capital, with police officers standing on top of him and spectators shouting.
Latypov was taken to hospital after the incident. Belarusian health authorities reported that he was in stable condition after surgery.
The 41-year-old was arrested in September during a crackdown on mass anti-government protests. Demonstrations had erupted in response to a disputed election that gave President Alexander Lukashenko another term.
Latypov had planted himself in front of a mural in Minsk to try to prevent the authorities from painting graffiti of the opposition.
He was accused of organizing riots, resisting police and fraud. A state television report also accused him of planning to poison police.
Deny any wrongdoing.
In court, Latypov stabbed himself in the throat with a pen-like object, Viasna-96 reported.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile, said Latypov’s actions were “the result of state terrorism, repression and torture in Belarus.”
Flat deviation drop
The diversion of the Minsk plane with Protasevich on board, which was flying from Greece to Lithuania but which had been in Belarusian airspace when it was forced to land, provoked international outrage and saw the EU ban Belarusian aircraft from the block’s airspace.
The bloc had also urged airlines to avoid flying over the former Soviet state.
But Wizz Air chief executive warned Wednesday that the bloc’s response had negatively impacted aviation, saying they made the industry “a policy toy” and could undermine their efforts to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. .
“I don’t think that’s the right answer,” Joszef Varadi told Reuters. “I do not think that aviation should be used as a means of political sanctions.
“Nothing has happened that would have endangered the safety or security of the flights.
“I do not think anyone has been insecure for a second. It is a political measure. This is not a security measure. “
Protasevich is accused by Minsk of helping orchestrate last year’s anti-government rallies.
Since then, the Lukashenko administration has curbed displays of dissent, arresting activists and opposition protesters.
All major opposition figures are now in prison or in exile and several independent media outlets have been shut down.