MOSCOW, July 9. /TASS/. Moscow expects that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will carry out a professional and non-politicized investigation into the Ryanair flight incident in Belarusian airspace on May 23, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Friday.
She pointed out that the ICAO Council had met on June 28 to discuss an interim report on the incident, presented by the organization’s secretary general. According to the Russian diplomat, the document emphasizes the need for additional information, and highlights the secretariat’s intention to maintain contact with the countries and organizations concerned in order to get additional assistance to complete the investigation.
"The group is expected to issue a final statement in September, and we still believe that there is a need to carry out a professional and comprehensive assessment of the situation, without politicizing the issue or making premature judgements," Zakharova stressed.
On May 23, a Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight that took off from Athens was forced to make an emergency landing in the Belarusian capital of Minsk after a reported bomb threat. A Mikoyan MiG-29 jet was scrambled to escort the plane. The bomb threat came up empty after the aircraft had landed.
News later emerged that Roman Protasevich, wanted in Belarus as a co-founder of the Nexta Telegram channel, which the Belarusian authorities recognized as an extremist entity, had been among the flight’s passengers. He was detained by Belarusian law enforcement agents together with Russian national Sofia Sapega. Following the incident, the European Union barred Belarusian air companies from operating flights to EU airports and using the European Union’s airspace, and recommended that European air carriers should avoid Belarusian airspace.