by Symela Touchtidou

It has been more than six months since the Ryanair flight FR4978 was forced to change its route and land at the Minsk airport.

The flight took off from Athens, on Sunday 23 May, heading to Vilnius, Lithuania.

On board were Roman Protasevich, a Belarus dissent, blogger and political activist. With him, his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen studing in Belarus. She was also a critic of Belarus President, A. Lukashenko.

Just 10 kilometres from the borders with Lithuania, over the Belarus air space, the plane was forced to divert its route, after the pilot received a false bomb threat. Escorted by a Belarusian Air Force MiG-29 fighter aircraft the plane landed at Minsk National Airport.

Passengers were forced to disembark and Belarus police arrested both Protasevich and Sapega at the passport control.

The now face charges of plotting riots and organizing actions that violates public order in Belarus.

The plane was given permission to take off hours later.

Ongoing investigation

Protasevich and Sapega came to Greece to attend the Delphi Economic Forum. Among the panelists was Belarus opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

The news of their arrest shocked Europe. Ryanair’s CEO, Michael OLeary, talked about “state sponsored hijacking”. EU introduced sanctions against the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s main export goods (oil products, potash) and the government financing operations.

The Greek government pledged to seek legal action against whoever was responsible for the forced grounding of the plane.

But six months later, there is no news on who might be.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya returned to Athens on Thursday 30 September to take part at the Athens Democracy Forum.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Makis Voridis met on Friday 1 October.

On Friday, she met with the Greek Minister of Interior, Makis Voridis, whose ministry is responsible for the investigation on how that Ryanair flight ended up at Minsk.

Tsikhanouskaya and Voridis “discussed the investigation on RyanAir hijacking by Lukashenka’s regime, and the possibility of starting the international criminal proceedingsas she tweeted.

Asked if there are any news on the investigation, in an interview to euronews Greece, Tsikhanouskaya said: 

“Actually, no. We are waiting for the results of the ICAO investigation. After that, we will make conclusions and we will proceed to bring the guilty people to justice”.

The Greek ministry of Interior did not give any further information on the issue and did not release a statement after the Tsikhanouskaya- Voridis meeting.