Belarus opposition leader hails world support after journalist arrest

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Saturday hailed support from around the world after Minsk scrambled a warplane to intercept a flight and arrested a dissident journalist on board.

Belarus has been subject to EU and U.S. sanctions since President Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on pro-democracy protests after a disputed election last year.

But his decision to intercept an international airliner in Belarusian airspace and arrest the 26-year-old has brought threats of more serious action. Most European countries told their aircraft to avoid Belarus airspace and banned Belarus carriers from their skies.

"I am very touched by the support I see in Lithuania and all around the world," Tsikhanouskaya told reporters, standing among a few hundred exiles in a square in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.

The protesters were holding pictures of the detained blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen who was also arrested.

Lithuania has sheltered hundreds of Belarusians who it says risked detention in their country after the presidential election, including Tsikhanouskaya.

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Source: Global News

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