The United States has upgraded its travel warning for Belarus following the removal of a journalist from a plane due to the risk of ‘arbitrary’ detention.
On Wednesday, the US Department of State updated its travel recommendation for Belarus, urging people against visiting the nation.
According to a State Department news release, the advice is “Level Four: Do Not Travel,” and Americans should avoid traveling to Belarus because of “arbitrary law enforcement, risk of arrest, and COVID-19.”
According to the statement, “Belarusian authorities have jailed tens of thousands of people, including Americans, for claimed links with opposition organizations and purported involvement in political demonstrations.”
Belarusian officials have arrested, harassed, and/or mistreated U.S. citizens near rallies, according to the State Department.
Belarusian authorities have also “targeted individuals linked with independent and foreign media,” according to the statement. Belarusian officials forced a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania to land in Belarus earlier this week in order to apprehend onboard opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich.
NEW: The State Department has upgraded its level four Do Not Travel recommendation for #belarus, citing “arbitrary law enforcement, detention danger, and COVID-19.” m4gKnNZwrZ (https://twitter.com/m4gKnNZwrZ)
May 26, 2021 — Ruffini (@EenaRuffini)
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko justified his decision to divert the jet, claiming that a bomb threat posed a security concern to his country. He said that Pratasevich was planning a “bloody uprising” and that European elites were fighting him in a “hybrid war.”
“I behaved lawfully, safeguarding people in accordance with international standards,” Lukashenko told MPs on Wednesday.
Belarus will face more economic sanctions, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In a press conference, she remarked, “This is an attack on freedom of expression and an attack on European sovereignty.” “Because this appalling act requires a forceful response, the European Council decided to impose extra penalties on people engaged in the hijacking, as well as corporations and economic organizations that are backing the [Belarusian] regime.”
All leaders of the European Union have urged airlines to avoid flying across Belarusian airspace. Singapore Airlines, Air France, and Lufthansa have all stated that they will not fly over Belarus.
Ryanair has also stated that it will not fly over Belarus. Michael O’Leary, the airline’s CEO, accused Belarus. This is a condensed version of the information.