Poland suspends flights to Belarus

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Poland's flag airline LOT has suspended all flights to Belarus, and has re-routed its flights crossing Belarusian airspace, the airline informed PAP on Tuesday.

The move comes as a sanctioning measure against the Belarusian authorities after their Sunday arrest of oppositionist Roman Protasevich when his Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was forced 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.

Poland, which has called Protasevich's arrest "an act of state terrorism", has appealed to the EC to retaliate with sanctions against the Belarusian government, including the suspension of all air links between Belarus and the EU states.

On Monday, the EU summit in Brussels agreed to the sanctions. Besides the closure of EU airspace for Belarusian airlines, they embrace trade and personal restrictions on several members of the regime.