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Cyprus closes airspace to Belarus flights

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Cyprus has closed its airspace to flights from Belarus, joining a list of European Union countries imposing restrictions following the forced landing of a passenger jet in Minsk on May 23, Reuters reported.

The aviation authority had banned airlines registered in Belarus from using Cyprus’ airspace and airports from May 28, a transport ministry spokesperson said.

Most of Belarus’ neighbours and many other European nations have banned Belarusian national airline Belavia flights in anger over the forced landing of a Ryanair jet en route to Lithuania from Greece and the arrest of a dissident journalist on board.

The same advisory prohibits Cyprus-registered airlines from entering Belarusian airspace or flights to and from Belarus.

All flights to Belarus have been suspended.

A scheduled Belavia flight from Minsk to Larnaca airport on May 29 was cancelled, another source said.

The restrictions do not apply in the case of humanitarian or medical emergencies.

Cyprus condemned the diversion of a Ryanair flight by Belarus to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich.

The Cyprus Foreign Ministry said a Cypriot passenger was on the Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania, forced to land in Minsk for the arrest.

Nicosia deplored Belarus’ actions and called for Protasevich to be released.

The Foreign Ministry “strongly denounced” Belarus actions for jeopardising civil aviation safety and has called for the immediate release of Protasevich.