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Free Roman Protasevich: Malta’s Airport Shows Support For Sanctions Against Belarus’ Regime

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Images of Roman Protasevich, the Belarusian journalist under detention by the country’s dictatorial regime, have been strewn across Malta’s airport as part of a European Parliament campaign to address major concerns in the country. 

Malta is just one of many EU member states to exhibit photos of Protasevich in their airports following calls from European Parliament President David Sassoli to show support for measures taken against the Belarusian regime. 

“We welcome the targeted and personal sanctions against members of the Belarus regime, the blocking of overflights over Belarus for EU airlines, and measures against Belarusian airlines, in particular Belavia. I also think it would be a very positive gesture if a photo of Roman were to be displayed in the main airports of European Union member states, as a mark of solidarity and to show that we will not fail him,” Sassoli said. 

Yesterday, the EU parliament adopted a resolution detailing sanctions against Belarus with 626 votes in favour, 16 against and 36 abstentions. This came after Protasevich and Sofia Sapega were detained after a Ryanair flight en route from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk because of a bomb threat. 

The EU has described the incident as a “hijacking and an act of state terrorism.”

The resolution urges the EU Council to sanction the Belarusian individuals and entities involved in the forced landing and the abductions as soon as possible.

It also calls for EU member states to introduce new sanctions against those who took part in or were complicit in suspected electoral fraud last year and the subsequent human rights violations in Belarus. This includes prosecutors, judges, law enforcement employees, and agents working on disinformation, media, and propaganda.

Marat Markov, who interviewed Protasevich on the state channel ONT on 2nd June, was named on the list. 

MEPs are also calling for swift economic and sectoral measures targeting key Belarusian industries, in particular the crude oil and oil products, potash, steel and wood-processing sectors. Financial support to the regime must alsso be strictly denied, any new credit lines to the country’s banks refused, and investments in infrastructure or economic undertakings must be halted.

Belarus should also be suspended from international sports bodies and international events, including European and world championships, and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Belarus’ state TV should also not be allowed to air EURO 2020 – with the coverage going towards an independent channel in the country.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Julian doesn’t like to talk about himself. But if he did, he would let you know that he’s into anything that has got to do with politics, the environment, social issues, and human interest stories.

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