Scholz: Putin must stand up for Protassevich | free press

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After the arrest of a government critic in Minsk, Belarus, Olaf Scholz calls on the Russian president to take action. Lukashenko’s regime must be “internationally isolated”.

Berlin (AP) – SPD chancellor Olaf Scholz expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to campaign for the release of government critic Roman Protassewitsch after the plane landing in Minsk was forced by Belarusian authorities.

“President Putin must use all his influence over the Belarusian dictator to secure the immediate release of Roman Protassevich and his partner Sofija Sapega. The regime in Minsk must be isolated internationally,” Scholz told the Funke media group newspapers.

Putin and Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko meet today in Sochi, Russia. Belarusian authorities had forced a passenger plane to land – allegedly because of a bomb threat. That later turned out to be a false alarm. After landing in Minsk, government critic Protassevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were arrested. The incident caused international horror. EU heads of state and government quickly agreed on sanctions against Belarus. Russia is Belarus’ main ally.

“My Kremlin expectation for the meeting with Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko is clear: Moscow must not ignore this monstrous act of air piracy,” Vice Chancellor Scholz said. Lukashenko violated international law with the emergency landing.

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