EU ok's Polish sanctions proposal on Belarus, PM reports

OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/PAP/EPA

The EU has accepted Poland's sanction proposals against Belarus in response to the Sunday arrest of oppositionist Roman Protasevich, Poland's prime minister said on Monday night after the first day of the ongoing EU summit in Brussels.

On Sunday, Belarusian authorities arrested Protasevich and his partner after forcing their Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk because of an alleged bomb threat.

Protasevich, a key activist of the Belarusian opposition, is a co-founder of the Nexta channel on Telegram messaging app, which Belarus last year deemed as an extremist organisation after it was used to help organise major protests against the president, Alexander Lukashenko.

“I’m reporting with some satisfaction, that our proposals in connection with this act of state terrorism... the absolutely illegal arrest of two Belarusian citizens, have been accepted by the European Council," Morawiecki said.

At the summit EU leaders agreed to sanction the Belarusian government for the Protasevich arrest. Besides the closure of EU airspace for Belarusian airlines, the sanctions embrace trade, and personal restrictions on several members of the regime.

They also asked the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to launch inquiries into the forced landing of Protasevich's flight in Minsk.