Vladimir Putin today refused to guarantee he wouldn’t using a fighter jet to force a commercial flight from London to land in Russia after Belarus used fighter jets to ground a Ryanair flight.
Kremlin leader, 68, was interrogatedBelarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko used a MiG-29 fighter jet to shoot down a Ryanair plane so he could detain his political enemy Roman Protasevich.
At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin was asked if Russia would land a plane from London if a wanted person was on board.
Journalist Stas Natanzon asked the Russian president: “Russia has its own list of wanted criminals.
Vladimir Putin (pictured) refused to guarantee he would not use a fighter jet to force a commercial flight from London to land in Russia after Belarus grounded a Ryanair flight
The Kremlin leader, 68, was questioned about Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) who used a fighter jet to shoot down a Ryanair plane so he could hold Roman Protasevich
“Would Russia land a plane – let’s take London to Thailand, for example – if there was a wanted person on board?
“The plane from London to Thailand flies over Russia.”
Putin thought for a moment before replying: “I won’t say it.”
His response sparked laughter and applause from his audience and Russian TV host Natanzon.
But Putin’s response is likely to send a shiver in Britain and other Western countries, which have condemned Alexander Lukashenko’s government after it scrambled a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet to launch a Ryanair plane into Minsk to escort.
Putin was also questioned about whether Russia had played a role in the hijacked Ryanair flight.
“Of course not,” he replied.
“Some Roman Protasevich, I have no idea who he is, and I don’t want to know,” Putin told the audience.
At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin (pictured) was asked if Russia would land a plane from London if there was a wanted person on board, and replied: ‘I won’t say’
Putin’s response is likely to send shivers in Western countries, which condemned Lukashenko for escorting a Ryanair plane to Minsk to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich (pictured)
“Let him do what he wants, fight against Lukashenko’s regime…”
Outside of the pandemic, British Airways and Thai Airways are two airlines that normally fly directly between London and Thailand and fly over Russian airspace.
Later on RT’s talk show, Natanzon explained how he interpreted Putin’s “I won’t say” response.
The journalist replied: ‘This is a signal. Not for me, it shouldn’t tell me anything.
“This is the signal to those people of London that says ‘concern’.
‘Don’t worry, boys. Fly, but fly with sweaty hands.
“In an ideal world, this is a signal not to steal – and not to flee to London, but to live by the law.
“But if they’ve already done that, fly with sweaty hands.”
Russian authorities have complained that a number of wealthy Putin enemies have been exiled to Britain.
Belarusian leader Lukashenko has been convicted with sanctions imposed by the West for the act of “state piracy” by forcing the tourist flight that flew over Belarus.
Ryanair flight FR4978 was flying from Athens in Greece to Vilnius in Lithuania when it had to make an emergency landing in Minsk amid false reports of an IED on board.
Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, 23, were both arrested on arrival and are now being held in a KGB prison notorious for torturing political prisoners.
There are fears that Protasevich was beaten and tortured after exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya said she was sure he had been mistreated.
In footage released Wednesday, Protasevich appeared to be smoking leisurely as he spoke about the opposition with an unidentified interrogator.
‘This is just no’ [protest] activity at the moment,” the 26-year-old said on the broadcast.
“We have to get rid of those plans… such an activity can no longer take place now… when I was in Vilnius, I openly said that street protests were not necessary..
Ryanair flight FR4978 was flying from Athens in Greece to Vilnius in Lithuania when it was escorted by a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet to Belarus amid false reports of an IED on board
A day after Sofia Sapega, Roman Protasevich’s girlfriend (pictured) was arrested, Belarusian media released a video (left) in which she confessed to organizing ‘mass riots’.
People hold placards featuring Protasevich and Ihar Losik as the Belarusian community gathers to meet Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Warsaw, Poland, June 3.
Belarusian journalist and blogger Protasevich added: ‘We should at least wait for the economic situation to warm up.
“We have to wait for the day when people don’t protest against new elections or against violence by the security forces, but people take to the streets for a bowl of soup.”
The new video comes after Protasevich last appeared on May 24, viewers say he was in good health and treated well.
“I continue to work with investigators and confess that I have organized mass unrest in the city of Minsk,” he said.
The video was widely thrown out as forced and Protasevich’s father claimed the 26-year-old had broken his nose.
Meanwhile, a day after the arrest of Russian citizen Sapega, Belarusian state media released a video confessing to organizing “mass riots” in Belarus.
She also “admits” to editing the social media channel that published personal information about Belarusian police officers.
Her parents say the confession is false and that Sapega did not attend mass anti-government rallies in Minsk last summer and did not meet her boyfriend in Lithuania until the new year.
Belarus was rocked by strikes and weekly street protests after authorities announced that Lukashenko, who has ruled authoritarianly since 1994, had been re-elected on 9 August with 80 percent of the vote.