Belarus opposition figure detained after flight diverted

The World
Raman Pratasevich is shown in a dark jacket with a police officer holding him on either side.

Belarus police detain journalist Raman Pratasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus, March 26, 2017.

Sergei Grits/AP/File photo

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Outrage and condemnation grew more intense on Monday from Western countries over the arrest of 26-year-old Belarusian activist and journalist Raman Pratasevich, in Minksk. Pratasevich was on a Ryanair passenger flight from Athens, Greece, with the intended destination of Vilnius, Lithuania, when a MiG-29 fighter jet ordered by Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, diverted and escorted the plane down in Minsk. Officials from Ryanair said Belarusian flight controllers told the crew there was a bomb threat on the plane. Several Western leaders denounced the plane diversion as a hijacking and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it “shocking.”

A ceasefire after 11 days of deadly airstrikes and rocket attacks between Israel and Hamas is holding, after the worst violence in Gaza since 2014. Mediators from Egypt have been meeting with officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza in an effort to maintain the ceasefire. Sec. Blinken is traveling the Middle East on Monday to hold meetings with the Israeli government and “rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect,” according to the White House. The United Nations is set to launch a campaign appealing for aid to repair the damage caused by the bombings in Gaza.

Samoa’s first and newly elected woman prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, was locked out of Parliament on Monday, raising concerns over a potential constitutional crisis in the Polynesian island country. Samoa’s previous leader claims he remains in charge, while Mata’afa and her party moved forward, taking oaths and recognizing appointed ministers in a ceremony under a tent in front of the locked Parliament. Mata’afa called the efforts to keep her from office a “bloodless coup.”

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