Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Raman Pratasevich. Photo: Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

European Union leaders were due to meet Monday to discuss possible sanctions against Belarus after a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania carrying an opposition activist was diverted to Minsk over a supposed bomb threat.

Why it matters: Raman Pratasevich, a journalist and opposition leader wanted by the Belarusian government, was detained at the Minsk airport once the plane landed. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, "Those responsible for the Ryanair hijacking must be sanctioned."

  • The UN's civil aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said in a statement the landing "could be in contravention of the Chicago Convention," a treaty protecting airspace sovereignty.
  • Lithuanian Police said in a statement they had launched a pre-trial criminal investigation into the matter and would cooperate with prosecutors in other EU countries.

The state of play: The plane was flying over Belarus and was six miles from the Lithuanian border when Belarusian air traffic control told the pilots to divert to Minsk due to "a potential security risk on board," per the Washington Post.

  • The presidential press service said that President Alexander Lukashenko "personally ordered" a fighter jet to escort the flight down to the Minsk airport, according to AP.
  • Officials later confirmed no explosives were found on the airplane, per AP.
  • The flight continued on its way after the diversion to Minsk and landed in Lithuania later Sunday, Bloomberg reports.

Of note: Pratasevich co-founded the Telegram channel Nexta, which helped organize massive anti-government demonstrations last year, AP notes.

  • He has been living in exile in Lithuania for several years out of fear of being arrested in Belarus, where he faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted on charges of "inciting hatred and mass disorder," the New York Times reports.

What they're saying: Leaders in the U.S. and Europe have condemned the action. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for Pratasevich's "immediate release."

  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted that the U.S. "needs to consider restricting commercial air traffic into and over Belarus until this matter is resolved. No travelers can feel safe if state sponsored hijacking becomes acceptable."
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in a joint statement with European counterparts urged the ICAO to investigate the "reckless act," saying: "Using fighter aircraft to intercept a civilian Ryanair flight is an act of piracy on a route between two NATO and EU countries."
  • "We call on NATO and European Union States to put sanctions on the Lukashenka regime and suspend their ability to use Interpol and other international organizations to further attack democracy in Europe," the group added in its call for Pratasevich's release.

In Europe, exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in a statement urged the ICAO to investigate the incident, per WashPost.

  • The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted that the U.K. was "alarmed" by Protasevich's arrest and warned "this outlandish action by Lukashenko will have serious implications."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Aug 6, 2021 - Sports

IOC removes two Belarus coaches in Tsimanouskaya case

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya during a press conference on Aug. 5. Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee said Thursday it canceled and removed the accreditations of two Belarusian coaches over their suspected involvement in trying to send sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya back to Belarus.

Driving the news: The coaches, Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich, were asked to leave the Olympic village immediately "and have done so," the IOC said.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan police reform negotiations end without deal

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the Capitol in May 2021. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bipartisan talks on reforming police tactics and accountability, prompted by George Floyd's murder in May 2020, have ended without a compromise, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a key negotiator, said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lawmakers, led by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Booker, had been working toward a bipartisan deal for months but things fell apart due to disagreements on qualified immunity and other issues.

Federal Reserve scales back expectations for economic recovery as Delta variant weighs

Fed chair Jerome Powell during a congressional hearing last year. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Fed downgraded near-term expectations for the economy and the labor market, alongside hotter-than-expected inflation, in new estimates out on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's the first time those closely-watched estimates reflect impact from the delta variant that's already rattled the labor market. Still, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said enough progress has been made to begin to pull back emergency-era measures that have supported the economy.