EU officially closes its airspace to Belarusian airline carriers

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Belarusian aircraft banned to overfly, land over EU territory. The European Union officially banned on Friday Belarusian carriers from its airspace.

The Council of the EU decided to prohibit the overflight of EU airspace and access to EU airports for all Belarusian aircraft, the institution representing EU governments announced in a press release.

The decision means that EU member states will have to deny permission to overfly, land, or take off from their territories to any Belarusian carriers.

The ban implements the agreement of EU heads of state and government reached during their summit last week, in response to the forced landing of the Ryanair flight to Minsk and the detention of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and his partner.

On May 23, citing a “bomb threat,” a Belarusian MIG-29 fighter jet forced a Ryanair plane passing through Belarus’ airspace to land, and then detained passenger Pratasevich, a journalist wanted for his involvement in “terrorist incidents.”

Pratasevich is the founder of the social media news channel NEXTA, which played a major role in protests last summer demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko after the Aug. 9 elections.

The results of the presidential poll were widely contested by the Belarusian opposition and the majority of the international community, including the US and European governments.

The EU did not recognize the results and also condemned the violence against protesters.

Since October 2020, the bloc has imposed sanctions against 88 individuals, including Lukashenko and seven entities. Due to the green light given by EU leaders, the blacklist will also be soon extended.