The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has approved a statement condemning the illegal actions of the Belarusian authorities regarding the forced landing of a Ryanair plane and called on the Belarusian authorities to release Roman Protasevich and all political prisoners immediately.
Some 280 MPs voted for a respective resolution, No. 5597, "On the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Regarding the Incident with the Forced Landing of a Ryanair Plane in Minsk," according to an Ukrinform correspondent.
"The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine strongly condemns the actions of the authorities of the Republic of Belarus regarding the forced landing of a Ryanair passenger plane and the detention of Roman Protasevich, which is another manifestation of the Belarusian authorities' attack on the political opposition, freedom of speech and journalism in Belarus," the statement reads.
The Verkhovna Rada also called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Roman Protasevich and all political prisoners, to end the arbitrariness and torture used by the Belarusian security forces against detained citizens, and to guarantee respect for human rights in accordance with international obligations.
The statement says that the Verkhovna Rada reaffirms its full solidarity with international partners, first and foremost, the EU member states and the United States, including on the suspension of air travel with Belarus.
The parliament also fully supports the actions of the Ukrainian government which, in order to ensure the safety of civil aviation and society, was one of the first in Europe to ban air traffic between Ukraine and Belarus from May 26, 2021 and strengthen "air sanctions" against Belarusian airlines from May 28, 2021.
The Verkhovna Rada emphasized that the International Civil Aviation Organization must immediately investigate this unacceptable forced landing of a passenger plane by the Belarusian authorities, with corresponding consequences for those who did it.
The chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada has been instructed to ensure the immediate transmission of the text of the statement to the United Nations, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, national governments and parliaments.
On May 23, the Belarusian authorities scrambled a fighter jet to force a Ryanair plane, en route from Athens to Vilnius, to land in Minsk. Roman Protasevich, the founder of the Nexta channel, and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were traveling on the plane. Belarusian security forces detained them after the plane landed.
On May 27, Protasevich's lawyer, Ines Alenska, was able to see her client for the first time since his detention. Due to the signing of a non-disclosure agreement, the lawyer could not say exactly where and in what status Protasevich was.
Human rights activists recognized Sapega and Protasevich as political prisoners.