Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Belarus is like North Korea in Europe, opposition figure tells LBC
24 May 2021, 18:15
Belarus is "like North Korea in Europe", a senior adviser to a Belarusian opposition leader has told LBC.
Franak Viacorka, a senior adviser to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, made the remark while speaking to LBC's Eddie Mair.
His comments have come amid accusations that Belarus diverted a Ryanair plane to arrest an opposition journalist Roman Protasevich.
Ryanair has said that Belarusian flight controllers told the flight crew there was a bomb threat against the plane as it crossed through the country’s airspace and ordered it to land in the capital Minsk.
Mr Viacorka argued that Belarus at present is "like North Korea in Europe".
He also said that the country has "never said goodbye" to the era of the Soviet Union and to communism.
Mr Viacorka said: "Unfortunately there is no...free media right now. It's almost impossible to express yourself."
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell responded to the diversion of the plane by saying it was “yet another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all opposition voices”.
Meanwhile, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called what occurred a “hijacking”.
However, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry blasted what it called “belligerent” EU statements and argued the country’s authorities have acted “in full conformity with international rules”.