The air traffic controller who directed a Ryanair flight to divert from its path to Vilnius and land in Minsk, Belarus has gone missing.
Air Traffic Controller Goes Missing In Belarus
Oleg Galegov convinced Ryanair pilots to divert to Minsk, Belarus (MSQ) even though Vilnius, Lithuania (VNO) was closer and the scheduled destination, citing a bomb threat onboard. The captain of FR4978 flight ultimately decided to divert after Belarusian fighters were scrambled to escort the flights.
After landing in Minsk, KGB (as the secret police are still called in Belarus) met the aircraft…and promptly arrested dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega. The whole affair has been called piracy and an act of state terrorism.
> Read More On Ryanair 4978:
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- The Captain Made The Right Call In Ryanair Diversion To Belarus
- Transcript: Ryanair Pilots Communicate With Belarus ATC
- Belarus Journalist Arrested After Plane Diverted
Now Galegov and his girlfriend have been missing for several weeks, their phones disconnected, and their social media accounts are no longer online. Opposition media reports the couple have defected to the West, seeking refuge in Georgia. Others fear the couple have been taken into state custody in Belarus to avoid revealing to western intelligence the true nature of the Ryanair diversion.
The UK Daily Mirror quotes an air traffic control colleague of Galegov confirming he has not been seen in more than a month:
“Personally, I haven’t seen Oleg for a long time. There are rumours that he has disappeared. Colleagues cannot contact him and are worried. It is impossible to call him, and he deleted his social networks. The authorities have not officially told us anything.
“But I don’t really fear him, because I think he just protected himself and left. He is a great air traffic controller. He will find a job without any problems in any country. The voice on the published recording of the Ryanair incident is his.”
Officials in Belarus have not commented on his whereabouts.
This story keeps getting weirder. Hopefully Galegov and his girlfriend diverted to the West and are not in harm. His testimony would be most interesting in developing culpability for Belarus and the Lukashenko regime and holding them accountable.
(H/T: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)