2021-12-13
Minsk airport.

A former air traffic controller has revealed the details of the Ryanair jet forced landing in Minsk airport to Polish investigators, the New York Times reports. Aleh Halehau [Oleg Galegov] was on duty during the incident, which led to opposition blogger Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega being taken off the plane and arrested. After the events, Halehau left Belarus and is now in Poland where he cooperates with the investigators. The air controller has reportedly provided detailed evidence that the flight was diverted with the help of a fake bomb threat as part of an operation by Belarus’ KGB. Apparently, a KGB officer was in the control tower, personally giving instructions to the staff. 

The passenger jet diversion caused a worldwide scandal and has often been referred to as an “act of state terrorism”. As a reaction, the European Union introduced a ban on the overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian carriers and imposed stricter sanctions. However, Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega still remain under house arrest.