By STEPHEN LLOYD
KYIV, Ukraine (mocsnews.com) – Journalists continue to battle many dangers in their profession, and their world is becoming more dangerous. As governments and other groups crackdown on journalists, actively suppressing media that opens the closet door exposing their dark skeletons.
The latest journalist to face such atrocities is Raman Pratasevich, a dissident Belarusian journalist, fled his homeland to evade the Belarusian KGB for his criticisms of President Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko recently won reelection for a sixth term as the country’s president, which has been widely speculated as fraudulent. Pratasevich faces a 15-year prison sentence for his involvement in opposition protests against the president’s reelection and has been placed on a Belarus terrorist watch list, which could result in him receiving the death penalty.
On May 23, Pratasevich was on board a Ryanair jetliner which was flying through Belarus airspace when air traffic controllers ordered the commercial flight to land, stating a bomb threat against the aircraft. A Belarusian fighter jet then intercepted the flight on its way to Vilnius, Lithuania, from Athens, Greece forcing the jetliner to land at Minsk airport in Belarus. He was forced off a commercial flight and arrested by Belarus authorities.
After his arrest the Belarusian state-run media released a video of Pratasevich confessing to charges against him. “This outrageous incident and the video Mr. Pratasevich appears to have made under duress are shameful assaults on both political dissent and the freedom of the press,” Biden said in a statement. “The United States joins countries around the world in calling for his release, as well as for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners who are being unjustly detained by the Lukashenka regime.”
Since the mass protests and the arrest of Pratasevich the EU and the United States have placed sanctions against Belarus and Belarusian officials. President Biden said in a statement, “The United States will continue to stand with the people of Belarus in their struggle.”