Lukashenko says he did not know about Protashevich but if he did he would order the plane to land

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Three days after the “state hijacking”, the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko claimed today that he did not know that the dissident blogger Roman Protasevic was on the diverted flight to Minsk, but that he would have ordered the aircraft to land if he had known.

Protasevic, an exiled opposition blogger, was arrested in Minsk on Sunday after Belarus sent a fighter jet and the plane he was on was forced to land under the pretext of information about the existence of a bomb that turned out to be false, which caused an international outcry.

Mr Lukashenko said earlier in his comments broadcast on television he believes that there will be no repetition of the mass demonstrations that broke out last summer.

His comments came shortly after exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said today that The opposition is planning a new phase of anti-government protests in Belarus, as noted by AMPE.

Mass protests against Lukashenko erupted last summer after he declared victory in the presidential election, which his opponents said were rigged, but the protests lost momentum amid sweeping crackdowns by authorities.

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