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Publication of data from Ryanair flight would put an end to bogus arguments, Minsk says

On May 23, a Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight that took off from Athens was forced to make an emergency landing in the Belarusian capital after a reported bomb threat

MINSK, June 29./TASS/. Belarus aviation authorities believe that if the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) published decoded data from the flight recorders of the Ryanair flight, it would end all the bogus arguments about the illegitimacy of Belarus’ actions in the May 23 Ryanair flight incident, the director of the Transport Ministry’s Department for Aviation, Artyom Sikorsky, said on Tuesday.

Sikorsky took part in a video session of the ICAO Council on June 28, which looked into an interim report about the incident in the airspace of Belarus.

"We believe that if ICAO published the decoded information from the onboard recorders of the Ryanair aircraft, then all false arguments about the illegitimacy of Belarus’s actions would be dismissed," the BelTA news agency quoted him as saying.

"It is not clear to the Belarusian side, why the ICAO has not yet pointed out to countries of the European Union, Canada, Ukraine and some other countries that they were violating the Chicago Convention by imposing discriminatory sanctions against the civil aviation of Belarus," he said.

Sikorsky emphasized at the session that Belarus had taken a transparent stance in the probe, had supplied ICAO with a large amount of information, and continued to send data. "Aviation should not be dragged into politics. People with various passports work in the Belarusian aviation sector, and we don’t divide people by nationality on the flights of our carriers," the official stressed.

According to him, if Belarus had not reacted "to these two threatening letters, the entire global community would have the full right to accuse it of criminal inaction".

"In order to manage aviation, one must be a highly professional and competent specialist, well aware of one’s responsibility for action or inaction, affecting the safety of flights and aviation security," Sikorsky went on to say. "That is why I see it as my duty to explain that the financial stability of the aviation system is interdependent and interconnected with its safety," he stressed. According to him, the decisions of the European Union "to impose illegitimate sanctions create problems, including financial ones, not only for the carriers of Belarus, but also of a number of other countries".

Sikorsky also confirmed that the decision was taken after the session of the ICAO Council to continue the investigation to establish the facts and produce a report on September 13.

Ryanair flight incident

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 into Minsk. The bomb threat came up empty after the aircraft had landed.

The Belarusian authorities specified later that Roman Protasevich, wanted in Belarus as a co-founder of the Nexta Telegram channel, which the Belarusian authorities recognized as extremist, had been among the flight’s passengers. He was detained by Belarusian law enforcement agents.

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.

Earlier, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said the West was showing clear unwillingness to probe the Ryanair incident since the results wouldn’t be in its favor.