Yesterday, a RyanAir flight was diverted from its original flight plan, destined for Lithuania, by a Belarusian Mig-29, forcing the Irish-registered airliner to land in Minsk, the Capital of Belarus. Upon landing, Belarusian authorities arrested Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega and, following a brief layover, the flight continued on to its final destination in Lithuania. Those are the facts, no spin, no opinion.
Today, the entire European Union has gone apoplectic over this, labeling it an act of “Air Piracy” or “Hijacking” and after high-level meetings among EU heads of state, a round of sanctions will be forthcoming against Belarus, its President Alexander Lukashenko and other government officials.
Lets rewind and take a look at the backstory, specifically the person of Roman Protasevich and his role in the recent protests and unrest in the country, a former Soviet-bloc state and ally of Russia and President Putin.
Without exception all main-stream press is fawning over the 26-year old Protasevich, characterizing him as one of a few courageous dissident journalists leading the political opposition against President Alexander Lukashenko and his party. The narrative has been set: President Lukashenko is suppressing political opposition, free speech and jailing journalists, a Soviet-era authoritarian dictator not unlike Vladimir Lenin or Joseph Stalin.
These same western leaders, waxing indignant that their darling NeoLiberal troublemaker has been arrested, take a blind eye to Julian Assange, a real journalist telling the real truth about real atrocities and war crimes committed by some of these same western powers and, by Western Powers, I include the United States and all of Western Europe.
Please don’t misunderstand my intent in writing this article. I wish no harm or malice to Mr. Protasevich; my intent here is to call out the glaring hypocrisy of these leaders, many waxing indignant when they’re on the receiving end of some undesirable state action but yawn with indifference or wallow in cowardice, some feigning ignorance when confronted with real injustice or state violence perpetrated against lesser states or peoples and, in many cases, injustices or actions perpetrated by them.
Here are US Secretary Of State, Antony Blinken’s predictable remarks:
We strongly condemn the Lukashenka regime's brazen and shocking act to divert a commercial flight and arrest a journalist. We demand an international investigation and are coordinating with our partners on next steps. The United States stands with the people of Belarus.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 23, 2021
This detained Western-funded Belarusian regime-change operative that the EU is lavishing praise on worked with Ukrainian neo-Nazis. He is exactly the kind of fascist the European Union and Washington love to use as pawns. He was part of the press arm of the neo-nazi Ukrainian national guard regiment Azov Battalion and covertly worked with western powers to overthrow the democratically elected government of Belarus, his own country, the government of Alexander Lukashenko. The Azov battalion is notorious for committing extreme torture, mass looting of civilian homes and other appalling war crimes.
#Ukrainian media reports that #Protasevich served in the press-service of the neo-Nazi-led Azov battalion in #Ukraine during the war in #Donbas: "… украинскую страницу в биографии Протасевича: белорус одно время работал в пресс-службе «Азова»." https://t.co/azFjYFkCtk
— Ivan Katchanovski (@I_Katchanovski) May 24, 2021
Enter the Republic of Ireland
Today Ireland’s Taoiseach or Prime Minister, Michael Martin, in no uncertain terms condemned the diversion of RyanAir flight 4978:
Welcome decision by #EUCO to impose sanctions on Belarus and demand the immediate release of Roman Protasevich and partner Sofia Sapega.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) May 25, 2021
With all due respect, Taoiseach, no one was put in harm’s way! My comments to him:
Very strong words Michael, for an incident that put no lives at risk, for an incident quite similar to what happened to Evo Morales of Bolivia. Your outrage is interesting here and now when there was no such condemnation when actual atrocities and war crimes were being committed by Israel in Gaza last week, when there were repeated demands made to expel Israel’s ambassador to Ireland. You wouldn’t, so your words here and now lose all moral weight. Roman Protasevich was a coup plotter and his arrest was a long time coming.
Does anyone actually believe for one bloody minute that they would shoot down that aircraft?
Almost without exception, including Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, all Irish politicians called for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland last week but Michael Martin refused to do so. It does need to be pointed out: all EU members of the UN Security Council, member states that include Ireland, Estonia and France, voted to condemn Israel for its actions in Gaza. Unfortunately, the United States used its veto power in the person of UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to block the resolution from having its intended effect.
And here is Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, waxing indignant and Patriarchal about the abduction of their darling NeoLiberal troublemaker.
The hijacking of the Ryanair plane by the Belarus regime is an attack on democracy.
An attack on freedom of expression.
An attack on European sovereignty.
Roman Pratasevich & Sofia Sapega must be released immediately. pic.twitter.com/r2rxBSnzer
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 25, 2021
They act as if this was unprecedented. Do they remember the 2013 fiasco surrounding the US hunt for Edward Snowden who their ‘Intelligence Services’ believed to be on board then Bolivian President Evo Morales’ Presidential Jet returning home from a state visit to Russia? In this case, they apparently have amnesia about the incident and, for some, their role in it as EU Member states:
The Bolivian plane flew through Poland and the Czech Republic without incident. But flight records show that while flying over Austria toward France the plane suddenly took a sharp turn to the east, back to the Austrian capital of Vienna, where it made an unscheduled landing. Morales and his entourage were stranded there for twelve hours before re-boarding the plane and flying back to Bolivia.
And thus we have the breathtaking hypocrisy of the European Union, most of them overtaken by NeoLiberalism, Ireland for sure with the imposition of expanding austerity measures and gentrification, a result of unregulated banking interests and vulture funds buying up many of the remaining affordable properties. Michael Martin’s government has done next to nothing to address this and thus stem the rising tide of homelessness in Ireland.