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Belarusians protest outside EU representation office in Warsaw against arrest of journalist

Hundreds of people in Warsaw on Saturday rallied in support of the Belarusian opposition, days after the regime in Minsk diverted a European passenger plane and arrested a dissident journalist onboard. Among those present were the Poland-based parents of the detained journalist, 26-year-old Roman Protasevich. The crowd chanted "Long Live Belarus" and held up the opposition's red and white flag as well as signs with slogans such as "Help Belarus," "Freedom for Belarus" and "North Korea in the Middle of Europe". Protasevich and Sofia Sapega, 23, were arrested last Sunday after Belarus scrambled a military jet to divert the Ryanair plane they were travelling on. Protasevich's parents said their son looked like he had been beaten in a video later released by Belarusian authorities. The forced landing triggered a global outcry, but a defiant Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, said he had "acted lawfully to protect our people" from an alleged bomb threat on the plane. The EU has banned Belarusian airlines, urged EU airlines not to cross Belarusian airspace and threatened tough economic sanctions on Lukashenko's Kremlin-backed regime.

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