Following the diversion of a Ryanair flight carrying an opposition protester, the Kremlin expressed concern for Europe’s efforts to sever air ties with ex-Soviet Belarus and bypass its airspace, The Moscow Times reported.
Following a rumored bomb attack, the plane flying from Athens to Vilnius landed in Minsk, Belarus.
The incident sparked international outrage, with EU-based airlines suspending flights to Belarus and European officials threatening new sanctions.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his allies have also been sanctioned by the European Union and the United States for their treatment of the country’s demonstrations following a contested presidential election in August 2020.
Roman Protasevich, an opposition journalist who was on board the diverted Ryanair flight, was detained at Minsk airport and is being held in a pre-trial detention center, according to authorities.
His Russian girlfriend Sofiya Sapega, who was on the flight with him, was also arrested.
Peskov said that he is hopeful she will be released shortly.
Protasevich, who is 26 years old, fled to Europe in 2019 after co-founding the Nexta Telegram networks, a key Belarus opposition media outlet that helped rally demonstrators.
He is accused of planning mass violence in Belarus, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.