Putin REFUSES to rule out hijacking a passenger flight from London
Putin REFUSES to rule out hijacking a passenger flight from London and forcing it to land in Moscow after Belarus used MiG to kidnap dissident off Ryanair flight
- Vladimir Putin today refused to rule out using a warplane to land a tourist flight
- He was asked about Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko landing Ryanair plane
- Russian leader was asked if he would land a plane with a wanted person on board
- The Russian president, 68, cryptically responded to the query with: ‘I won’t say’
- Belarus grounded plane to arrest Roman Protasevich and girlfriend Sofia Sapega
Vladimir Putin today refused to guarantee that he would not use a warplane to force a commercial flight from London to land in Russia after Belarus used fighter jets to ground a Ryanair flight.
The Kremlin leader, 68, was quizzed about Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko using a MiG-29 fighter jet to bring down a Ryanair plane so he could detain his political foe Roman Protasevich.
At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin was asked whether Russia would land a plane from London if a wanted person was on board.
Journalist Stas Natanzon asked the Russian president: ‘Russia has its own list of wanted criminals.
Vladimir Putin (pictured) refused to guarantee that he would not use a warplane to force a commercial flight from London to land in Russia after Belarus grounded a Ryanair flight
The Kremlin leader, 68, was quizzed about Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) using a fighter jet to bring down a Ryanair plane so he could detain Roman Protasevich
‘Would Russia land a plane – let’s take London to Thailand, for example – if a wanted person was on board?
‘The plane from London to Thailand flies over Russia.’
Putin thought momentarily before answering: ‘I won’t say.’
His answer provoked laughter and applause from his audience and Russian TV presenter Natanzon.
But Putin’s response is likely to provoke a chill in Britain and other Western countries, which have condemned the government of Alexander Lukashenko after it scrambled a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet to escort a Ryanair plane to Minsk.
Putin was also quizzed on whether Russia had played any part in the hijacked Ryanair flight.
‘Of course not,’ he replied.
‘Some Roman Protasevich, I have no clue who he is, and don’t want to know,’ Putin told the audience.
At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin (pictured) was asked whether Russia would land a plane from London if a wanted person was on board, and responded ‘I won’t say’
Putin’s response is likely to provoke chill in Western countries, which condemned Lukashenko for escorting a Ryanair plane to Minsk to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich (pictured)
‘Let him do whatever he wants, to fight Lukashenko’s regime…’
Outside the pandemic, British Airways and Thai Airways are two airlines that normally fly direct between London and Thailand, overflying Russian airspace.
Later on RT’s Talk Show, Natanzon explained how he interpreted Putin’s ‘I won’t say’ answer.
The journalist replied: ‘This is a signal. Not to me, it shouldn’t tell me anything.
‘This is the signal to those residents of London, which reads “worry”.
‘Do worry, guys. Do fly, but fly with sweaty hands.
‘In an ideal world this is a signal not to steal – and do not escape to London, but live by the law.
‘But if they’ve already done that, then fly with sweaty hands.’
The Russian authorities have complained that a number of wealthy Putin foes are exiled in Britain.
Belarusian leader Lukashenko has been condemned with sanctions imposed by the West for the act of ‘state piracy’ in forcing down the tourist flight as it overflew Belarus.
Ryanair flight FR4978 had been flying from Athens in Greece to Vilnius in Lithuania when it was forced to make an emergency landing in Minsk amid fake reports of an IED on board.
Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, 23, were both arrested on arrival and are now being held in a KGB detention jail notorious for torturing political prisoners.
There are fears that Protasevich has been beaten and tortured after exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya said she was sure he had been mistreated.
In footage released on Wednesday, Protasevich appeared relaxed, smoking as spoke about the opposition with an unidentified interrogator.
‘These is simply no [protest] activity right now,’ the 26-year-old said in the broadcast.
‘We need to abandon those schemes…. there can’t be any such activity now… when I was in Vilnius, I said openly that street protests were not needed..
Ryanair flight FR4978 had been flying from Athens in Greece to Vilnius in Lithuania when it was escorted by a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet to Belarus amid fake reports of an IED on board
A day after Roman Protasevich’s girlfriend Sofia Sapega (pictured) was arrested, Belarusian media released a video (left) showing her confessing to having organised ‘mass riots’
People hold placards depicting Protasevich and Ihar Losik as the Belarusian community gather to meet with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, in Warsaw, Poland, June 3
Belarusian journalist and blogger Protasevich added: ‘At the very least we have to wait for the economic situation to heat up.
‘We must wait for the day when people will not go to protest about new elections or against violence by the security forces, but when people will take to the streets for a bowl of soup.’
The new video comes after Protasevich last appeared on May 24, telling viewers he was in good health and was being treated well.
‘I continue cooperating with investigators and am confessing to having organised mass unrest in the city of Minsk,’ he said.
The video was widely rubbished as forced and Protasevich’s father claimed the 26-year-old had has his nose broken.
Meanwhile, a day after Russian national Sapega’s arrest Belarusian state media released a video showing her confessing to having organised ‘mass riots’ in Belarus.
She also ‘admits’ to having edited the social media channel that has published personal information about Belarusian police officers.
Her parents say the confession is false, and that Sapega did not attend mass anti-government rallies in Minsk last summer, and only met her boyfriend in Lithuania in the New Year.
Belarus was rocked by strikes and weekly street protests after authorities announced that Lukashenko, who has ruled in authoritarian fashion since 1994, had secured re-election on August 9 with 80 per cent of votes.
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