The European Union has imposed new economic sanctions on Belarus after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk, resulting in the detention of opposition blogger Roman Protasevich. Joe Biden condemned the incident "in the strongest possible terms" while President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen descibed "the hijacking of the Ryanair plane by the Belarus regime is an attack on democracy". Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary labelled it "state-sponsored hijacking" and "state-sponsored piracy."
The incident sets a new and grim precedent in Belarus, a country that was at the center of a disputed election last year. It saw Alexander Lukashenko win yet another term in office and that resulted in Belarus being rocked by the biggest protests in its history. In response, the government clamped down on demonstrations through violence and arrests, with some protestors claiming the authorities used torture.
Over the years, a plethora of international reports have shown just how much freedom is really curtailed in Belarus. This infographic pulls some of the most recent results together, highlighting the country's ranking in major reports we have frequently covered at Statista. For example, it only manages 148th out of 167 nations in the 2020 Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit. It also scores poorly in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, coming in 158th out of 180 countries and territories.