MEPs call for more sanctions against Belarus following ‘Ryanair hijacking’ 

Press Releases 
  • Parliament strongly condemns forced landing of flight in Minsk and detention of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega 
  • ‘Ryanair hijacking’ constituted an act of state terrorism, say MEPs  
  • EU must sanction those involved  
  • Suspend Belarus from international sport events like European and world championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo 
Parliament calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega ©AP/Sergei Grits  

Parliament calls on the EU to punish those involved in forcing a plane to land in Minsk on 23 May and in the detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich.

    In a resolution adopted on Thursday with 626 votes in favour, 16 against and 36 abstentions, MEPs strongly condemn the “Ryanair hijacking” as an act of ‘state terrorism’, and call for Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega, as well as all other political prisoners in Belarus, to be immediately and unconditionally released.

    The EU sanctions list must be expanded

    The resolution urges the Council to sanction the Belarusian individuals and entities involved in the forced landing and the abductions as soon as possible.

    EU member states must also proceed with utmost urgency with the next package of sanctions against those who took part in or were complicit in electoral fraud last year and the subsequent human rights violations in Belarus, says the text.  Prosecutors, judges and law-enforcement employees who play a role in the repression should be on the sanctions list, as should agents working on disinformation, media, propaganda and officials supporting the regime, such as Marat Markov, who interviewed Raman Pratasevich on the state channel ONT on 2 June.

    In addition, MEPs call for swift economic and sectoral measures targeting key Belarusian industries, in particular the crude oil and oil-products, potash, steel and wood-processing sectors. Financial support to the regime must be strictly denied, any new credit lines to the country’s banks refused, and investments in infrastructure or economic undertakings must be halted. European financial institutions must be prevented from acquiring bonds or any other financial instrument issued by the Belarusian government and affiliated public institutions.

    Belarus should be suspended from international sport bodies and events

    The resolution also calls for Belarus to be suspended from international sport bodies and international events, including European and world championships, and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. MEPs further urge the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to remove broadcasting rights for the upcoming EURO 2020 football tournament from Belarusian state television TVR and assign them to the independent Belsat TV free of charge.

    The text similarly addresses a wide range of other issues to do with EU-Belarus relations and will be available in full here. (10.06.2021)

    Ahead of the vote, MEPs also debated the continuous systemic crackdown and human rights violations in Belarus with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday 8 June.

    Catch up with the debate here (full debate) and here (extracts from the debate).