This article by Olga Onuchn, Aliaksandr Herasimenka and Sofie Bedford is published by The Washington Post. Here is an excerpt:
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka defended Sunday’s forced landing of a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to divert to Minsk, calling it a lawful move to protect passengers from an alleged Hamas bomb threat and avert potential disaster at a nuclear power plant.
Belarus authorities found no bomb on the plane but detained two passengers: Raman Pratasevich, 26 — a Belarusian journalist and opposition activist — and his companion, Sofia Sapega, a 23-year-old Russian law student. Global leaders, human rights organizations and pro-democracy groups have denounced the plane’s interception and the detentions, calling the bold move a government hijacking or even an act of war.
So was Lukashenka showing the West and his own people that he’s a strong leader — or was this the desperate move of an isolated dictator? Political science research suggests that Lukashenka is weaker and even more desperate than he looks.
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