By all (reasonable) accounts the Belarusian government hijacked a Ryanair flight traveling from Greece to Lithuania because a critic of the dictator was onboard. Belarusian air traffic controllers claimed they received a bomb threat, which the Ryanair pilots didn’t believe. When the pilots refused to believe this, a fighter jet was deployed to force them to divert.
Now that Belarus is getting some pushback from the international community, it seems there’s a new explanation for what happened. Folks, apparently this is all just one big misunderstanding, and the government has nothing to do with this!
The Belarusian government is now blaming this situation on… Hamas. According to a Belarusian government official, Minsk Airport’s email received a message from a protonmail.com email address in English, containing the following:
We, the soldiers of Hamas demand that Israel stop firing on the Gaza Strip. We demand that the European Union refuse its support of Israel in this war. It is known that participants of the Delphi Economic Forum are returning home on flight Foxtrot-Romeo 4978. There is a bomb on this flight. If you don’t meet our demands the bomb will explore on May 23 above Vilnius.
This is… bizarre on so many levels, and almost amusingly unbelievable. Like, over a day after the incident, that’s the best lie the government could come up with? Seriously? Minsk Airport — and only Minsk Airport — was emailed about a bomb onboard an Athens to Vilnius flight? I mean, at that point I think “someone’s dog accidentally sent the email” is more believable.
Interestingly a Lufthansa flight today from Minsk to Frankfurt (LH1487) allegedly also received a threat. It’s claimed by the government that an email was sent to the airport by unidentified persons about their intentions to commit a terrorist act onboard, causing the plane to be searched. The plane eventually took off after a two hour delay.
It’s not too hard to see through this. Obviously Belarus got caught the first time around, so by faking another potential issue on another plane without a political opponent, perhaps the initial incident is supposed to seem more believable?