The Polish special services published an audio recording on social networks, which allegedly heard the conversation between the dispatcher of the Minsk airport and the pilot of the Ryanair aircraft with the former chief editor of the NEXTA telegram channel Roman Protasevich on board before the forced landing of the flight.
How reports the TV channel “Rain” (recognized in Russia as a media-foreign agent), the record was posted on Facebook by the representative of the Minister-Coordinator of the Polish Intelligence Services Stanislav Zharin. It is noted that on the tape one can hear a third person advising the dispatcher in Russian.
“Rain” brings the content of the conversation. Namely, that on the audio recording the dispatcher, referring to the information received, informs the pilot about a bomb on board, which may explode in the airspace of Vilnius. When the dispatcher stops talking, a man in Russian asks him to continue. After that, the controller recommends the pilot to land in Minsk. The crew member asks where exactly the recommendation came from. The man, whom the Polish special services call a KGB officer, prompts: “On our recommendation.” The air traffic controller repeats his words to the Ryanair pilot.
Earlier this week, The New York Times wrote that air traffic controller Oleg Galegov, who urgently landed a plane in Minsk with Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega on board on 23 May, testified to the Polish authorities. Galegov said that the plane was forced to land in Minsk as a result of the operation of the State Security Committee of Belarus. According to him, at the time of the incident, the KGB officer took control of the air traffic control service.
In a NYT publication it was also said that Galegov had illegally crossed the Belarusian-Polish border in the summer. In Warsaw, he contacted the US Embassy, but there he was referred to the Polish authorities. The newspaper indicated that it received information from its sources in the European intelligence services.
Director of the Aviation Department of the Ministry of Transport of Belarus Artem Sikorsky called the NYT publication “informational stuff”. He also confirmed that Galegov left the country and suggested that he was under pressure abroad.
The Nexta channel actively covered the protest actions in Belarus after the presidential elections in August last year. Now criminal cases have been initiated against Protasevich and Sapieha for organizing mass riots in Minsk and inciting social hostility towards representatives of the authorities.
In June, after Protasevich’s speeches criticizing the opposition were shown on Belarusian television several times, he and Sapega were transferred from the pre-trial detention center to house arrest. Recently, Sofia Sapega was presented with the final charges under the article on “inciting hatred.” The Russian woman faces up to six years in prison.
The circumstances of the arrest of Protasevich and Sapieha caused a sharp one in the West. The incident was called the hijacking and kidnapping. New sanctions were introduced against Minsk.