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Belarus: Political Prisoners

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 18605, tabled on 18 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Belarus government on the detainment of (a) Roman Protasevich and (b) other political prisoners.

Answered on

12 July 2021

As the Foreign Secretary made clear in his 24 May statement to Parliament, the Belarusian authorities' forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 and their subsequent arrest of the journalist, Roman Protasevich, was a shocking attack on human rights, media freedom, civil aviation and international law. The UK has acted swiftly, robustly and in coordination with our allies. On 24 May, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas summoned the Belarusian Ambassador to condemn the Belarusian authorities' actions and call for the immediate release of Mr Protasevich. On 24 and 25 May, the UK took measures to prevent all Belarusian aircraft from entering UK airspace, unless authorised, and advised all UK airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace. The UK has condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities on the international stage, including at the OSCE in Vienna and the UN in Geneva. On 8 June, in a meeting with the Belarusian Foreign Minister, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Belarus, joined by the Heads of Missions from the EU, Japan, Switzerland and the US, demanded the release of all political prisoners, including Mr Protasevich. On 21 June the UK acted in coordination with our international partners to implement sanctions against those responsible for the forced landing of the Ryanair flight and Mr Protasevich's arrest.